When money becomes the only principle 大石砸死蟹之告別畢打行

In the post-handover Hong Kong, nothing seems to matter except $$$$$.

The beautiful China Tee Club is forced to leave the historic Pedder Building after it first set its foot there a quarter of the Century ago. The reason? US casual wear retailer Abercrombie & Fitch is reportedly paying HK$7.5 million a month renting four floors to open its Hong Kong flagship. (Sunday Morning Post, July 10: Tee Club makes way for T-shirts after 25 years
Taking up four floors of Pedder Building means other iconic stores like Shanghai Tang and Blanc de Chine will have to go. In fact, Blanc de Chine has already shut down its Pedder Building outlet and moved everything to its Landmark branch. Shanghai Tang is reportedly still looking for a new location, and as for China Tee Club, its fate is still unknown. 

Initially there's nothing wrong with the changing of tenancy. Once a lease is up, and if the rent can't be agreed, the tenant and the landlord have to go separate ways. It's the basic principle guiding this so-called free market.
But here in the case of Pedder Building - a historic piece of architecture built in 1932 and will soon become grade I heritage building in Hong Kong, is such principle still applicable? 

If we still applied that very basic economic principle, Pedder Building would've been demolished years ago. I'm no expert in properties but I can tell how valuable that site could've been. Located right at the heart of Central, imagine just how much rental return it could bring if Pedder Building was replaced by just another grade A office tower. If AIA Central could be renting at HK$160 per sq ft, Pedder Building could easily ask for a similar rate if not more. 

But the building is still here, being "protected" in the name of heritage, which shows us that there's something above the face value of a piece of property, and that is its historical and cultural value. And the tenants in this building should also be those that match the style of the building, shops that will make this building a cultural icon. It's not just a random building. It's a building that has a story to tell. 

However, with the increasing cost of maintenance and the lack of support/ incentive for landlords to preserve the building, it's hard for landlords to say no to HK$7.5 million monthly rental income.

So in just a couple of months, Pedder Street will look just like any other streets else where in the world, colonised by worldwide chain stores. And the historic Pedder Building will become nothing but just another soul-less shell housing a store selling cheap teenage clothes, just like Starbucks invading Forbidden City. 

Do we really have to kowtow to $$$$$?


位於中環畢打街法定二級古蹟的畢打行,將會很快要面對近二十年來的最大變遷。(Sunday Morning Post, July 10: Tee Club makes way for T-shirts after 25 years) 美國連鎖服裝店 Abercrombie & Fitch 已用據聞天價的七百五十萬月租租下了畢打行由地庫至二樓的四層舖位,所有商舖包括地庫及地下的上海灘,二樓的 China Tee Club 和其如十六個商舖都要走。
上海灘是香港的原創品牌,十七年前發原於畢打行,該店的 China Tee Club 在畢打行獨特的三十年代值民地式建築配合下更見突出,也令畢打行生色不少。

二樓的 China Tee Club 更不用說了。古典特式的佈置,有點馬來亞的色彩,但又有點懷舊上海的感覺,與畢打行配合得天衣無縫。二十五年以來,China Tee Club 已累積了三千個會員,

一個美國大財團,摧毀了有意思的小店。據聞 China Tee Club 跟上海灘都未有找到新的落腳點。這就是所謂的自由經濟的「好處」嗎?難道沒有其他東西的價值比錢更重要嗎?

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