The Development Bureau and the Commerce and Economic Development Bureau today (March 19) jointly invited proposals from interested organisations and enterprises for transforming the Former Police Married Quarters (PMQ) on Hollywood Road into a creative industries landmark.
The PMQ project is one of the eight projects under the "Conserving Central" initiative announced by the Chief Executive in his 2009-10 Policy Address.
Responding to the views collected in a public engagement exercise in 2008, the revitalisation project will capitalise on the uniqueness of the site and brings together three project objectives, namely promotion of creative industries, heritage conservation and provision of local open space. Proposals are invited for the management, operation and maintenance of the revitalised site as a creative industries landmark.
Speaking at a press conference today, the Deputy Secretary for Development (Works), Mrs Jessie Ting, said that the PMQ, being the original home of the former Central School, was in a unique location with a unique history.
"The Central School was the first government school to provide upper primary and secondary Western education to the public. Commissioned on the same site in 1951, the PMQ was the first police quarters to provide accommodation for married junior police officers, including Chinese police officers. Surrounded by a wealth of cultural and historic sites in Central, the site has witnessed the development of Hong Kong into a metropolis over the last 150 years," she said.
The Deputy Secretary for Commerce and Economic Development (Communications and Technology), Mr Alan Siu, said, "Right at the heart of Central and adjacent to the existing vibrant core formed by art galleries, design studios, antiques and craft markets, shops of local designers' brands, a commercial and entertainment precinct, etc, the PMQ site has the potential to become the iconic creative industries landmark where our creative talent will congregate.
"The decision to preserve and transform the site for creative industries uses seeks to build on the existing cluster of cultural and creative industries establishments along Hollywood Road and in the SoHo area. The atmosphere provides a suitable nurturing environment for creativity."
A new partnership model will be adopted for the implementation of this project, whereby the Government will finance the essential structural and building services works under the Public Works Programme. The proposed government works, to be carried out by the Architectural Services Department, will include:
(a) upgrading two quarters blocks to meet functional requirements and modern-day building requirements;
(b) preserving historical relics of the original Central School;
(c) constructing a canopy in glass steel frame and a sky bridge between the quarters blocks;
(d) constructing a new multi-purpose room-cum-exhibition area and new galleries; and
(e) developing about 1,200 square metres of landscaped open space.
The successful applicant will be responsible for the capital costs for renovation beyond the Government works, if any, and interior decoration specifically for the intended uses, as well as the envisioning and operation of the creative industries landmark.
"The new partnership model draws on the Government's architectural strength and the private sector's expertise in creative industries. While the Government is carrying out pre-construction planning, interested applicants will prepare operation proposals in parallel. This arrangement will help expedite the delivery of the project.
"The Government will charge nominal rent for the site in order to encourage a wide variety of activities, e.g. dedicated space for start-up creative industries establishments at concessionary rent, an exhibition area for display of historical relics of the former Central School, landscaped open space, etc., which will meet the three project objectives but may not be profitable," said Mrs Ting.
Mr Siu said that the exhibition space and galleries for the display and sale of creative products would help attract patronage to the site after revitalisation. The revitalised site might also comprise studios for artists and designers from different creative sectors.
"To realise the project vision of promoting creative industries, the site may provide dedicated space for start-up creative establishments at concessionary rents for incubation purpose. The central courtyard between the two quarters blocks may be used as a venue for activities to promote creative industries and foster a creative environment within the community. The site may also include lodgings for visiting artists to facilitate on-site creative activities and collaboration among diverse talent groups," Mr Siu said.
An operator will be selected through a competitive Invitation for Proposals (IFP) process based on the merits of the proposals in the following areas:
(a) reflection of historical value and technical aspects (10%);
(b) creative industries value, social value and social enterprise operation (40%);
(c) financial viability and other considerations (25%); and
(d) management capability and other considerations (25%).
Assessment of submitted proposals will be carried out by the Advisory Committee on Revitalisation of Historic Building, augmented by expertise from the creative industries, through two rounds of selection.
The Chairman of the Advisory Committee on Revitalisation of Historic Building, Mr Bernard Chan, said that the advisory committee was very pleased to help assess the proposals for the PMQ project.
"With the committee's experience in assessing the revitalisation proposals for quite a number of historic buildings and complemented by the participation of experts from the creative industries, we are confident that we will be able to select the right operator for this important project," he said
A fixed tenancy term of 10 years, renewable for another five years, will be given to the selected operator to facilitate longer-term business planning for the operation of the creative industries landmark.
Applicants must possess charitable status under section 88 of the Inland Revenue Ordinance (Cap.112). Applicants that have formally submitted an application to the Inland Revenue Department will also be allowed to apply. Joint ventures of interested organisations and enterprises are also welcome.
To enhance transparency in the operating accounts of the project, the successful applicant is required to set up a special purpose company (SPC) for the sole purpose of operating this project.
The Government will not subsidise the operating expenditure of the project. The selected operator may solicit donations to meet the start-up costs of the project. Any net operating surplus arising from the operation will be shared between the operator and Government every five years on a 50/50 basis. Upon dissolution of the SPC, any surplus funds and assets should be disposed of in accordance with the Inland Revenue Ordinance.
Open days with guided tours will be arranged for prospective applicants to inspect the historic site and premises in mid-April 2010. A workshop will also be organised in late April to answer application enquiries.
CD-ROMs containing the invitation documents are available for collection at the Commissioner for Heritage's Office, Development Bureau, at 21/F, Murray Building, Garden Road, Central, during office hours. They can also be downloaded from the office's website: (www.heritage.gov.hk/en/pmq/ifp.htm).
Interested applicants must submit their proposals by noon on Friday, June 18, 2010. Late submissions will not be accepted.
Ends/Friday, March 19, 2010
Issued at HKT 18:10