Cover Henry Cheng and Sonia Cheng (Photo: Jensen Hoi/Hong Kong Tatler)

The group plans to develop portions of the complex, which was recently named a Grade 1 Historic Building

There may be hope for preserving Hong Kong's iconic State Theatre, the 67-year-old landmark that’s been left dilapidated by decades of negligence.

In October, Henry Cheng’s New World Development applied to buy the building with plans to redevelop portions of it. Now, the property conglomerate owns 95 percent of the complex.

A new report by real estate Web site Mingtiandi found that New World has snapped up three shops inside the building, located on King’s Road in North Point, for HK$188 million. 

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North Point residents have been posting petitions to preserve the State Theatre, which was added to Docomomo International’s “heritage in danger” watchlist in 2016, and was recently named a Grade 1 Historic Building by the city’s heritage chief. The site originally opened as a cinema dubbed the Empire Theatre in 1952, and was subsequently renamed the State Theatre in 1959.

The 1,400-seat theatre was once an international hub for artists, hosting the likes of British composer Benjamin Britten and French cellist Pierre Fournier, reports the South China Morning Post. And the building has been featured in cult-classic Hong Kong films like Game of Death starring Bruce Lee and director Fruit Chan’s The Longest Summer. Now, it serves as a snooker hall and arcade.

New World announced in a press release that the group will “actively consider how to preserve the essence of the former State Theatre after it has successfully unified the ownership.”

The company also announced that it, “will coordinate with community groups to organize a series of talks and guided tours, as well as activities to collect oral history and memories of North Point and the former State Theatre.”

New World will reveal its renovation plans if it’s able to take full ownership of the complex.

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