URA’s Art Community in Wan Chai takes off with the opening of the Comix Home Base

The first pure preservation cum revitalisation project of the Urban Renewal Authority (URA) at Mallory Street/Burrows Street in Wan Chai is officially open today (Thursday).  The URA has appointed Hong Kong Arts Centre (HKAC) to be the Main Operator of the Mallory Street project to operate and manage the “Comix Home Base” under a five-year contract.  The HKAC endeavours to use the Comix Home Base as the platform for exchange and interaction of the comic industry both locally and overseas.

The Chief Secretary for Administration, Mrs Carrie Lam, witnessed the opening of the Comix Home Base together with the Secretary for Development, Mr Paul Chan; Chairman of the URA, Mr Victor So; and Chairman of Board of Governance of HKAC, Mr Nelson Leong. 
Speaking at the ceremony, Chairman of the URA, Mr Victor So, said the Mallory Street project is purely a revitalisation cum preservation project without any redevelopment elements heralding art and creative industries as the theme of operation.   
He briefly mentioned the development of the project, saying the URA has implemented many urban renewal initiatives in Wan Chai district since its inception.  Some 3,000 local residents have so far been helped to improve their living environment while about 2,600 new residential flats are provided.  In addition to providing some 15,000 square metres of area for commercial activities and some 13,000 square metres of floor area for Government/Institution/Community facilities and public open space, the URA has assisted owners of some 9,800 residential flats from about 230 buildings in Wan Chai to rehabilitate their homes.
The Authority has also attached great significance to preservation initiatives in the district, involving 18 pre-war tenements of historical value, he added.   
He said: “Urban renewal is not a process of ‘hardware’ transformation only, it aims at improving the living environment of residents in the district while fostering a quality and positive development of the local community in the long run.”
Mr So thanked the Government and the District Council for their staunch support without which the URA might not be able to accomplish its many urban renewal initiatives in the district.
He noted that the URA has put in a great deal of efforts and resources in preserving and revitalising the Mallory Street project for cultural and creative industries taking into account views and suggestions collected in a two-month territory-wide public consultation back in 2005.
“Being the key protagonists, it is hoped that comic artists and animators from across the industry will make the best use of the Comix Home Base, which hopefully will become a significant cultural landmark for Wan Chai,” said Mr So.
Comprising a cluster of 10 pre-war Grade 2 historic buildings, the Mallory Street revitalisation project is renovated in accordance with the requirements of the prevailing building and safety regulations.  There are certain modifications made to the cluster to provide lift installation for the disabled, fire escape staircases and other fire and building services. 
Prominent features of the project such as balconies, tiled pitched roof, timber French doors and internal timber staircase are retained and preserved.
The revitalised building cluster also includes a 300-square metre public open space for the enjoyment of the community.  There are studios for comic and animation artists as well as a resource centre library that collects print and digital comic books and magazines. Other features included exhibition rooms, educational workshops, retail space for selling comics and related merchandise as well as food and beverages facilities/outlets.
Also officiating at the event, Mr Nelson Leong of HKAC said the opening of Comix Home Base marked an important milestone in the development of Hong Kong’s comic and animation industry which will help redefine the image of comics and animation, stimulate interests from new audiences and enhance international exposure for Hong Kong comics and animation artists.
“With a custom-designed venue to meet and interact, comic and animation talents will be nurtured while related products can be promoted, fostering the growth of this art form to become an even richer asset of Hong Kong,” said Mr Leong.
The galleries and the Comix Salon at Comix Home Base open from 10 am to 8 pm, Tuesday to Sunday, closed on Monday.