The historical Central Market, the first wet market in Hong Kong, will hold a soft opening on August 23 after four years of structural and cosmetic renovation. The market has been closed for 18 years.

The building was first constructed in 1842 as a local market. Over the next 180 years, the building was repurposed four times. The current iteration was erected in 1938 in a Bauhaus architectural style. At the time, it was one of the first markets to sell fresh food to people of all social classes and the largest meat market in Southeast Asia. After the Urban Council, which ran the market, was dissolved in 1999, the market closed in 2003.

old staircase in abandoned central market hong kong
Central Market has sat in decrepit ruin since its 2003 closing (© HKFP)

The government attempted to sell the building for commercial development in 2009, but decided to preserve it and give it a Grade III historical building classification after receiving public backlash.

Starting in 2017, revitalization costs rang in at HK$500 million. Local architecture firm AGC Design was responsible for repairing and preserving important original elements of the 83-year-old building, such as columns and wall colours. New elements like adding more entrances will make the space more visitor-friendly.

original central market hong kong
Original Central Market (© Central Market Concern Group)
newly renovated central market
Renovated facade maintains the clolours of the original tile (© SCMP)

The 122,000 square foot space spanning four floors has been reimagined as a twenty-first century marketplace. Chinachem Group will run the heritage landmark as a space for promoting local lifestyle brands, offering attractive dining, sustainable boutique shopping, and workshops, and holding cultural and entertainment events in the large high-ceilinged atrium, which can seat 100 people, and dedicated multifunctional event space. A pet-friendly zone can be accessed through the Queen Victoria Street entrance.

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Thirteen original market stalls have been preserved and will be home to successful local companies such as Gingko House (known for advocating for senior employment), Lamma Rainbow Seafood, and Maria’s Bakery’s new creative bakery 1966 Baking Alliance.

The second floor pedestrian corridor will continue to serve officeworkers, conveniently linking Hang Seng Bank Headquarters Building, Central Elevated Walkway, and the Mid-Levels escalator.

Visit Central Market starting today, bordered by Jubilee Street, Des Voeux Road Central, Queen Victoria Street, and Queen Road’s Central. To kick off the opening, there will be a STEAM playground on the 1/F event space until 29 August. An exhibition delving into the evolution of the building, The Story of Central Market, is on from 23 August to 1 November.

Central Market, 93 Queen’s Road Central and 80 Des Voeux Road Central, 3618 8668

Header image credits: Tatler Asia

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Born in Canada, Danielle is deep diving into the things that make Hong Kong a city of intermingling identities, and bridging the information gap as someone trying to navigate the city herself as a cultural inbetweener. Sometimes this means examining culture and local people’s stories, and other times it means drinking all the milk tea and doing walking explorations of peripheral districts.

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