New Creative Industries District Blossoms

Gentrification plan swings into action for Rua dos Ervanários

Local Macau developer Number 81 Company Limited recently invested over MOP100 million buying twelve stores along Patio de Chon Sau and Rua dos Ervanários in the heart of the tourist district with a view to gentrifying a commercial street in which chic cultural and creative products will be retailed. By capitalizing on the proximity to the Ruins of St. Paul's and the platform of Rua dos Ervanários, the company is inviting local and overseas cultural, creative and tourism brands to establish a foothold in the once-dilapidated neighbourhood.

The street - featuring retail and catering businesses in the tradition of London’s famous bazaars - will enable visitors to experience the history and culture of the city whilst enjoying quality tourism services as part of Macau’s march towards being a World Centre of Tourism and Leisure.

The project developer’s general manager, Leong Hou Weng, told reporters that the company was set up last year specifically for this urban renewal undertaking, saying that the MOP100 million invested to acquire 12 shop units came from the descendents of the original owner of the Mandarin’s House, a UNESCO World Heritage site in the Historic Centre of Macau. Entrepreneur and political reformer Zheng Guanying (1842-1923) was the original owner of the Mandarin’s House.

Leong pointed out that while the quarter is in a tourist area, many of the old shops had closed, with most of the ground floor units family-run businesses abandoned by the younger generation. Of the 12 new shops, six are operated by Leong’s company while six are leased to local businesses and overseas artists at 30-40 percent below market price, in addition to a subsidy for shop decoration.

“We want to give tourists who only go to the Ruins of St Paul’s and San Ma Lou [Avenida de Almeida Ribeiro] more choices for shopping and sightseeing, and also give young people a chance to start or expand their business, and artists to use this as a platform to promote their products,” Leong said, adding that the company was constantly acquiring shops in the city’s old quarters so that the urban renewal project could eventually be extended to Rua do Almirante Sergio.

The new shops’ products will include clothing, furniture, French patisseries, Italian handmade glass, Portuguese ceramics, and South African handicrafts amongst other attractions. A cafe and restaurant will open in March or April once licences are finalised.

Macau Government Tourist Office (MGTO) Director Maria Helena de Senna Fernandes said that the project was one of various ways to achieve economic diversification, likening it to Shanghai’s Xintiandi, which blends the city’s historical legacy with the cultural and creative industries. She noted that the redeveloped area was set to become a new attraction for tourists in addition to presenting an opportunity for young local entrepreneurs to benefit from the tourism industry.