Redevelopment Demolition Continues in Central Market - Flower Stall to Close by March 2015

Redevelopment Demolition Continues in Central Market - Flower Stall to Close by March 2015

Flower stall woman, known as ”十十 (Sap Sap)," works hard from dawn to night.

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Section-by-section demolition has moved into the next phase near Central Market, one of the areas undergoing redevelopment in the Central district of Hong Kong. Outdoor markets and other businesses have begun closing up shop ahead of the next phase of the Central Oasis redevelopment project.

The area the government has targeted for redevelopment runs south on each side of Gage Street from Lan Fong Yuen, by the Central Mid-Levels Escalators, to Wellington Street. The project calls for the creation of a commercial multiplex near Queen's Road Central, with the Central Market Tower, a building used as a market until 2003, at its heart.

The entire south side of Gage Street, where it intersects with steep Peel Street and Staveley Street, will also be rezoned. Gage Street's image as an outdoor market lined with fruit and vegetable stands, noodle shops, butchers, fresh fish shops and bakeries on each side will disappear from its original form.

Although stores that are forced to relocate due to the redevelopment are compensated by the government, street stall vendors have no such assurances. A 52-year-old woman at a flower stall, said, "This place is where I was born and raised, and where my parents escaped from poverty." Her mother ran a general item stall here for 50 years. After school she would visit snack shops or play outside her family's stall. "There was a deeply-rooted custom in the community of supporting other businesses in the neighborhood, so we didn't undercut each other's prices." Development led to rising prices, and she remembers that "it became a different world for the people who lived here for so long." She added, "People's original purpose in setting up shop here was doing business, but we've always helped each other and made it to the next day because of that."

Over 70 percent of her customers are regulars. She said with a smile, "Many come to buy flowers on Friday so they can feel positive about starting a new week on Monday or feel good welcoming the weekend." She also said, "When I'm here I get asked about all kinds of things from tourists, like about nearby shops and taxi stands, so I'm like a guide for the street." Shi Shi's stall will remain until March 2015, and she plans to keep doing business there until then.



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