Revitalization Policy of Factories in Hong Kong 2009-2019 Introduction
Kwun Tong Industrial Zone is formed in 1950s through the industrial development in Kwun Tong. Towards 1970s, Kwun Tong is one of the major industrial zones in Hong Kong which produce incredible number of manufacturing goods, and provide a huge amount of employment. The reclamation area located in Kowloon Bay also became light industrial zone in 80s. Nevertheless, due to cheaper labor forces and more affordable renting fees, many factories moved north to mainland China later, leaving many factory buildings vacant.
Indeed, Kowloon East has the most potentials to become next CBD of Hong Kong. Firstly, current CBD Central was fully occupied, which means more spaces needed. In addition, Kwun Tong is the largest land at downtown Hong Kong which can be developed with Kowloon Bay and Kai Tak. Thirdly, Kwun Tong industrial zone has this comprehensive transportation system linking to the city center, with ferries to Sai Wan Ho, minibuses to surroundings, bus and MTR to the rest of Hong Kong, which used to serve the workers within this industrial district.
In 2001, the government rezoned 65 ha area in Kwun Tong and Kowloon Bay area from “Industrial” to “Business” use (Kee, 2013). Conversions of vacant industrial factories to commercial/ office-use buildings were encouraged. In 2007, Town Center Project by URA (Urban Renewal Authority) was announced with an aim to improve living environment through government renewal behavior (Kee, 2013). During the year of 2009 -2010, the government introduced the revitalization scheme of industrial building to provide more floor space for alternative usage in order to meet Hong Kong’s changing social and economic needs (Mak, 2019). Through the support of Revitalization Scheme implemented in 2010, there has been 43 applications approved for wholesale conversion/ redevelopment in Kwun Tong and Kowloon Bay area (EKEO, 2012).
According to the report Industrial Revitalization Scheme 2.0: Optimizing Industrial Property Redevelopment in Hong Kong by CRBE (2019), the development of tech and other emerging sectors became new users of industrial space. This situation stimulated the re-introduction of revitalization policy in 2018.
Within the new scheme, besides the transitional housing use is allowed, five specific use types (art studios, office of audio-visual recording studio, office of design and media production, office used by specific creative industries, as well as research, design and development centers) can wave any temporary fees for initial 5 years (Mak, 2019). The landlords who applied for wholesale conversion are also required to reserve 10% GFA for arts and cultural, creative, innovation, tech, social services, sports and reactional sectors (CBRE, 2019).
There are also many challenges. Although the manufacturing industry in Kowloon East is not competitive compared with the past, the artists’ and small businesses’ presence within the area has always kept Kwun Tong full of energy. Thus, replacement of existing users and the local place identity of existing community atmosphere need to be considered. Indeed, the revitalization needs plans not only the redevelopment of building, but also think about how the newly converted area could serve the different roles of usage, achieving a smooth transformation from vehicle-oriented industrial zone towards human-oriented business zone. Besides the consideration of walkability, the lack of green infrastructure is also an issue in Kwun Tong.
Summary and comparison of revitalization Scheme 1.0 and 2.0
CBRE, 2019. Industrial Revitalisation Scheme Set to Spur More En Bloc Transactions of Aged Industrial Buildings. [Online] Available at: https://www.cbre.com.hk/en/about/media-centre/industrial-revitalisation-scheme-set-to-spur-more-enbloc-transactions [Accessed 18 Dec. 2019].
EKEO, 2012. Energizing Kowloon East Organizations: About EKEO Background. [Online] Available at: https://www.ekeo.gov.hk/en/about_ekeo/background.html [Accessed 10 Dec. 2019].
Kee, T., 2013. Urban revitalization of old industrial district in Hong Kong. Urban Environment Design, Issue 74, pp. 168-169.
Mak, S., 2019. Industrial 2.0: More Than a Face Lift, Hong Kong: Colliers International.
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