URA and Chinachem Group Sign Operation Contract for Central Market
The Urban Renewal Authority (URA) and Noble Vantage Ltd., a member company of Chinachem Group (Chinachem), today (1 March) signed the operation contract for the Central Market Revitalisation Project (the Project). The URA and Chinachem will jointly take up the Project’s operation and management, starting from today.
Held at the conserved Central Market building, the signing ceremony was officiated by the Managing Director of the URA, Ir Wai Chi-sing, and the Executive Director and Chief Executive Officer of Chinachem, Mr Donald Choi.
Speaking at the signing ceremony, Ir Wai said, “ Central Market was an epoch-making architecture in the 1930s, materializing the spirit of innovation through the pioneering use of construction materials, the functional style of architectural design as well as the operating model of a market at that time.
Since taking up the Central Market building from the Government in October 2017, the URA commenced restoration and preservation works for this 80-year-old building with the application of innovative measures, which included the restoration methods, repair materials, as well as project management software, aiming to enhance both the work quality and efficiency. It took the URA over three years to complete the first phase of rehabilitation and preservation works at a cost of more than 500 million dollars.
I look forward to continuing this innovative spirit in the collaboration with Chinachem in the future operation of the Central Market, in particular, its initiatives to promote Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics (STEM) education, as well as its support with additional resources, to startup companies to run in the Central Market, aiming to make the Central Market an epoch-making architecture and facility of the 21st century, and an energetic and vibrant landmark for Hong Kong.”
Executive Director and Chief Executive Officer of Chinachem, Mr Donald Choi said, “Central Market symbolises the Hong Kong-style market culture, which is full of Hongkongers’ collective memory. The Group will adopt an innovative approach by integrating elements of heritage conservation into the design to enhance the historical uniqueness of Central Market.
Chinachem Group has an enduring commitment to encouraging inclusiveness, promoting arts and culture, and supporting start-ups. We will strive to revitalise and operate Central Market by focusing on three key themes – approachable, energetic and gregarious – and introducing diversified catering, retailing and activities to shape it as a ‘Playground for All’, where people from all walks of life can meet, mingle and socialise. We will also invest extra resources into supporting start-up businesses in Central Market to revive and promote the spirit of innovation.”
Both the URA and Chinachem are conscious to avoid excessive consumerism and profit-maximising in the operation of the Central Market. A portion of the floor area of the Project has already been earmarked for public and community uses, including a 24-hour public passageway, toilet facilities, and green open spaces totalling about 1,000 square metres.
A joint management committee has been set up by the URA and Chinachem to devise implementation details of the business plan. The URA will closely monitor the performance and operational effectiveness of the main operator.
About the Central Market Revitalisation Project
As announced in the 2009 Policy Address, the URA was tasked with the revitalisation of the former Central Market building to provide a green public open space for diversified uses for public enjoyment. Upon completion of the first phase of restoration and revitalisation works in the 4th quarter of 2020, the Chief Executive in Council in January 2021 approved the grant of the former Central Market site to the URA by way of private treaty for 21 years to enable the URA and the main operator to take up the preservation and revitalisation of the building in a sustainable way. The URA will submit an Undertaking to the Government to ensure compliance of the operating principles reflecting the public aspirations, as well as the terms and conditions of the Private Treaty Grant.
Ir Wai Chi-sing (Right) and Mr Donald Choi