Time running out for Bruce Lee’s Hong Kong mansion

Time running out for Bruce Lee’s Hong Kong mansion

Developer’s deadline for demolition passes

Time running out for Bruce Lee’s Hong Kong mansion
The deadline ran out on Sunday to save Bruce Lee’s former mansion in Kowloon, paving the way for its demolition in the coming days. (South China Morning Post photo)

Bruce Lee’s former mansion is entering its final countdown as its owner is expected to begin demolishing the kung fu legend’s old home as early as next week to make way for a Chinese studies centre.

Joey Lee Man-lung, vice-chairman of the Yu Panglin Charitable Trust which owns the house, said the trust had received no new proposals from the government to preserve the block after the plan to demolish it was revealed two weeks ago.

The trust told the South China Morning Post it would begin demolishing the two-storey block in a fortnight’s time to make way for a Chinese studies centre.

“We had promised the Bruce Lee Club to postpone the demolition for two weeks and the deadline expires on Sunday. Yet no government department had contacted us so far,” Lee said. “We will begin tearing down the building as early as next week.”

Structural problems had been discovered in the building that made maintaining it unfeasible, according to the trust.

A mosaic left by Bruce Lee would be kept on the wall outside the mansion at 41 Cumberland Road in Kowloon – as would four window frames from the two-storey building.

Lee said temporary supporting piles had been erected inside the house and the demolition would start shortly after the Buildings Department granted consent.

A spokesman for the Buildings Department said it had not received any application for consent to the commencement of demolition works for the building.

Lee said it was a procedural matter being handled by the construction consultancy hired by the trust for the demolition work.

He said he approached the Development Bureau in the middle of last year and asked if the government had any plan to preserve the building, such as buying it.

“The bureau replied at the time it had no plan to do so,” he said. “We have heard nothing new from the bureau and other government departments in the past two weeks.”

Asked whether the bureau would approach the owner in an attempt to preserve the building, the spokesman said: “The government will explore suitable economic incentives to encourage owners to conserve their graded historic buildings. The form of economic incentives will be considered on a case-by-case basis, with regard to the circumstances of each individual case.”

The Bruce Lee Club launched an international online petition last week to urge the government to preserve the home.

The fan club suggested preserving the residence as a “Bruce Lee Memorial Hall”, which would make it an international tourist attraction, an idea first floated by club chairman Wong Yiu-keung in 2008.

Bruce Lee lived in Hong Kong as a child, and spent his last years in the Kowloon mansion before his sudden death in 1973, at the age of 32.

Billionaire philanthropist Yu Pang-lin, who later founded the trust that bears his name, bought the house in 1974 for about HK$1 million (4 million baht). At one point the house was used as a short-stay love hotel.

Yu had planned to sell the 5,699 square feet property in 2008 to raise funds for victims of the Sichuan earthquake.

Yu later offered to donate the house to the government for it to be turned into a Bruce Lee museum. He asked the government to relax land use restrictions and allow him to build two or three basement floors so that the proposed museum could include a cinema, martial arts training centre, library and exhibition hall.

But Yu and officials failed to reach an agreement and the plan was scrapped in 2011. Yu died in 2015.

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