New Macau Association (ANM) delivered a letter to be addressed to the Urban Planning Committee members yesterday, as they were gathering for a meeting at the Land, Public Works and Transport Bureau (DSSOPT) headquarters.
The document, as conveyed by the ANM’s newly re-elected president Scott Chiang, calls for some “good sense” and “balance” from the committee members in order to refrain from the “bulldozer impulses” of the government.
“Regarding the case of redevelopment of Hotel Estoril we are turning in the opinion of New Macau Association to the department [DSSOPT] because we see an unreasonable conduct in the consultation and planning of this case. We are very sad to see that the conduct of the administration totally disregards proper governance, that should respect the professional and public opinions before decision making,” Scott Chiang said adding “it’s almost like a bulldozer that pushes aside any opinion that is contrary to the agenda of the government.”
The ANM president also thinks that it is not just the general public that opposes the government’s proposal to demolish the building “but also the Culture [Affairs] Bureau itself and even [Secretary] Alexis [Tam] claimed that there is certain value in the building or in the façade. But now with the agenda already set in stone they just forget all about it, it is really sad,” he remarked.
ANM also claims that the government during the period of public consultation gave people false hope that their opinion would count. According to Chiang, it represented merely an “appearance of openness” that “lacks in substance” because the government did not provide concrete information, painting only a “rosy picture of what that development could be. He kind of conned people into supporting the redevelopment which is in fact a demolition of the site.”
Another problem highlighted in the ANM document to the DSSOPT is regarding what they claim to be a tentative “bypass the professionals’ opinion” by not proposing the building be classified as one of historical value.
Chiang also remarked on what he classified as “rude” comments from Alexis Tam who is alleged to have stated that “pro-preservation people had their own agenda and interests.”
The New Macau letter claims that “the preservation of the façade itself does not cause any limitation to the redevelopment,” urging the members of the committee to “stop for a minute of two to think and to chose for a compromise solution between the two: development and preservation,” according to Chiang.
Early last month, Alexis Tam announced a major change on the original idea for the project that aims to revamp the old Hotel Estoril. The idea to award it directly to Álvaro Siza Vieira was dropped, and the Portuguese architect has already confirmed that he will not participate in the project. Instead, the government will open a public tender allowing the participation of local architects. Alexis Tam earlier announced plans to transform the decrepit Hotel Estoril into a new center for arts and creativity targeting youth.
Three appeal for hotel estoril rethink
Three Urban Planning Committee members have appealed for a rethink of plans to redevelop the building. One member, Lam Iek Chit, decried that plans to “destroy” the building would be regretted in the future, especially given the efforts to bring the best of architects’ work to Macau. Secretary for Transport and Public Works Raimundo do Rosário stressed that the committee is only an advisory body and said that the relevant authorities will take some time to analyze the opinions and reach a decision.