Lee Tung Street in Wan Chai is set to be transformed into a high-end shopping district with the once-promised wedding theme of the redevelopment apparently under threat, according to Ming Pao.
The street, also known as Wedding Card Street to locals, was famous for its concentration of wedding card makers and other retailers selling related items. The redevelopment project, which began in 2007, caused much controversy due to opposition from local businesses and residents.
Ming Pao reported on Monday that a clause referring to “first class shopping premises” was added to leases signed between the Urban Renewal Authority (URA) and retailers. Retailers are also asked to display only goods deemed “of a design, quality and type in-keeping with the style, ambience and theme”. It is unclear what the “theme” is as there is no mention of the wedding theme in the leases.
In 2013, Leung Pei-Sai, the chief operating officer of Hopewell Hong Kong Properties Ltd, which is one of the developers, said that the mall would maintain a wedding theme. “Hei-wui”, the property’s name in Chinese, means “wedding assemble”, and several wedding elements are present throughout the property, such as the use of red, which is essential in Chinese weddings.
However, a concern group called H15 has said that the combination of high rent and the existence of such clauses in the lease have put off businesses originally located on Lee Tung Street.
“The spirit in Wedding Card Street was much better before,” said a woman who works at Kam Shing Printing, a wedding card maker located on the street prior to redevelopment, Ming Pao said. She also said that, due to the expensive rent, the company is not planning to move back.
The URA has also proposed plans for social enterprises and a “Chinese and western wedding traditions museum” to be based in the property. However, the monthly rent could be as high as HK$160,000. Conservancy Association’s Peter Lee Siu-man said that not all social enterprises could afford this.