Heritage site in HK
The Hong Kong government said it intended to declare one of its last colonial-era mansions a heritage site, despite objections from the wealthy heiress who owns the property.
AFP PHOTO LAURENT FIEVET
The Ho Tung Gardens residence on The Peak in Hong Kong
(HONG KONG-AFP) - The Hong Kong government said it intended to declare one of its last colonial-era mansions a heritage site, despite objections from the wealthy heiress who owns the property.
Built by and named after Sir Robert Ho Tung in 1927, the Ho Tung Gardens, sits on a site of just over a hectare (nearly three acres) on The Peak, a high-end residential neighbourhood in the Chinese city of seven million.
Ho Tung Gardens is the only remaining residence directly related to Ho, who was a prominent community leader and the first non-European to receive permission from the then British colonial administration to reside on The Peak.
"Ho Tung Gardens is also an early example, and probably the earliest surviving example, of Chinese renaissance architecture in Hong Kong," the government said in a statement received Tuesday.
"It is a rare historic building worthy of preservation," it said, adding that the city's Antiquities Advisory Board had unanimously supported the intended declaration due to the property's "significant heritage value".
The owner of the site -- the granddaughter of the late tycoon Ho -- had reportedly wanted to redevelop the site and rejected a government offer of a land swap. She could go to court to seek compensation.
Taxpayers in the city could potentially face a HK$3 billion (almost US$400 million) compensation bill, reports said Tuesday.
The site was made a "proposed monument" in January this year, when the Antiquities and Monuments Office was alerted to the owner's plan to demolish the building and redevelop the site.
Top government officials have since then met with its owner and its representatives to explore options for preservation, amid their differences.
Hong Kong, a former British colony, was returned to China in 1997 and remains a semi-autonomous city with its own legal and administrative system.
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