Hau Tak wet market at Hang Hau has been closed for refurbishment by its owner, LINK Reit. A free shuttle bus now takes customers to Sheung Tak market in Tseung Kwan O.
Hau Tak regulars say they fear the small stall holders who sell food at good prices to poor people will go out of business, because of the closure and expected rent rises. The Chinese press do not mince words: LINK Reit is “a blood sucker that kills shops and makes money from their death.”
One customer complained about the chaotic and unhealthy layout of the old market. “I hope when they reopen they structure the market a bit better than before, ie all seafood, veggies and meat in the same place, not like before when you had fish next to meat and vegetables.” He also complained that the half-hour free parking had been abolished.
NGO Link Watch has complained that big chains are taking over in the reit’s malls squeezing out small operators. They said that of 2075 shops in 22 shopping centres run by LINK 76 per cent were leased to chains. However, reit CEO George Hongchoy, who has held the job for seven years, said, “We continue to maintain roughly 60 per cent of our shops are leased to smaller operators.”
LINK was the first reit established in Hong Kong, based on assets of the HK Housing Authority, and is the most valuable by market capitalisation in Asia.