Photo Essay: Goodbye, Yue Man Square, Kwun Tong

If you walk around Yue Man Sqaure these days, you will find that this once bustling town centre of Kwun Tong is now partially deserted. Most residents and businesses have moved out due to a huge Kwun Tong redevelopment project, leaving the Square with empty, old buildings that will soon be demolished.

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The Kwun Tong town centre project was first announced by the previous Land Development Corporation (LDC) in 1998 and is now taken over by the Urban Renewal Authority (URA). It is the largest and most expansive redevelopment project in Hong Kong, covering a construction site of 5.35 hectares and costing HK$30 billion. The renewal plan aims at transforming Yue Man Square into a modern, sustainable and community-friendly hub which includes a multi-purposed civil centre, commercial tower and residential blocks providing approximately 2,000 units. It is estimated to be completed by 2021.

However, not everyone is happy and excited about the redevelopment project. Local, small businesses in Yue Man Square are forced to close down and replaced by shiny, new buildings with high rents, many fear that Kwun Tong will lose its character and become a difficult place for modest earners to live. 

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Most hawkers at Yue Man Square are uncertain about their future. They’re not sure whether there will still be a place for them to do business after the redevelopment. 

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“The whole redevelopment project is about making the most profit, the needs of the grassroots people are neglected.” Mr Chan, owner of the Ling Kee Bookshop.

Opened in 1966 by Chan’s father, the Ling Kee Bookshop is one of the very last surviving shops still in business at Yue Man Square. It rents out Chinese martial arts fiction books to locals at a bargain price.

Chan is discontent with the current redevelopment plan, “The compensation offered by the URA doesn’t allow me to relocate or reopen a store in Kwun Tong after the redevelopment. Rents will definitely increase by up to HK$70,000 a month.” Chan complains, “The authority just wants us to take the money and leave.”

Chan’s bookshop will be locked up and closed within the next couple of weeks.

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“Small businesses like my model shop will not survive under the redevelopment plan. I will miss this place and the neighborhood,” claims Mr Chan, owner of the former Wai Lee Model Shop.

Mr Chan’s family has been running the Wai Lee Model Shop at Yue Man Square for nearly thirty years. The shop closed down on Dec. 18. Some students studying nearby and neighbours who have moved out returned to say goodbye to the model shop. 


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