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Old March 24th, 2012, 07:13 PM   #221
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I really like the design of the Performing Arts Centre and the Shilin area definitely needs a few unique buildings.
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Old March 28th, 2012, 06:21 PM   #222
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Wed, Mar 28, 2012
Survey shows real-estate market expected to grow
BREAKING POINT:Housing has seen a slowdown since the launch of a luxury tax, but pent-up demand is leading to a rebound, although it is expected to be a modest one
By Crystal Hsu / Staff Reporter

Taiwan’s housing transactions may show a modest recovery from next quarter after a record number of Taipei residents voiced an interest in buying property, but said they would spend less on home purchases, a survey by Chinatrust Real Estate Co (中信房屋) showed yesterday.

A majority of respondents nationwide, 52.15 percent, expressed an interest in buying property, with the figure standing at 67.7 percent for residents in Taipei, while price differences between sellers and buyers fell from 20 percent to 15 percent, the quarterly survey showed.

The findings bode well for the nation’s housing market, which has seen sluggish trading for three consecutive quarters after the introduction in June last year of a special sales levy to curb short-term property speculation, company chairman Chris Cheng-Yu (鄭余正全) said.

“The housing market may recover some growth momentum for the rest of the year now that the buying interest gauge has bounced back above the neutral threshold,” Cheng-Yu told a media briefing.

The survey supported the upbeat sentiment shown by land developers that plan to launch NT$310 billion (US$10.49 billion) in housing projects, the second-highest level since 2008, in the spring season — beginning tomorrow and lasting until May 20.

Housing transactions at Chinatrust Real Estate nearly doubled this month from last month on the back of pent-up demand and declining expectations of a price correction, company vice chairman Richard Liu (劉天仁) said.

“Home prices have held steady despite declining transactions,” Liu said. “Some prospective buyers took note of the trend and decided to wait no longer.”

Liu expects housing transactions to pick up slowly but steadily in coming quarters amid stable prices, as the government would frown on price hikes.

Despite the pickup, home transfers may not return to the levels seen before the imposition of the luxury tax, with short-term investors out of the market, Liu said.

Steven Yang (楊家彥), an economist at the Taiwan Institute of Economic Research (台灣經濟研究院), said the property market is set to benefit from the government’s latest easing on investment from China.

“The much-expected influx of Chinese capital is about to start after the opening of Taiwanese manufacturers to Chinese investment,” said Yang, who was also present at the news conference.

Chinese investors have indicated keen interest in acquiring stakes in Taiwanese technology firms, a development that is also positive for local real-estate property, Yang said.

The government poses the biggest downside risk to the market if it seeks to address the widening income gap by raising property taxes, as some academics have suggested, he said.
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Old April 3rd, 2012, 05:01 PM   #223
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Updated Thursday, March 29, 2012 0:03 am TWN
The China Post
Protest fails to stop eviction, demolition


A backhoe destroys the home belonging to the Wang family in Taipei, yesterday. The Wangs stressed that they never agreed to take part in a project to redevelop the area. (CNA)


Taipei police yesterday evicted a family and blocked some 300 of their protesting supporters as demolition workers moved in to tear down their home to make way for a controversial urban redevelopment project.

The Wang family, holding pictures of their deceased elders, were escorted by officers out of their home in Shilin District, as around 1,000 riot police surrounded them.

The officers had removed about 300 of their supporters who had staged an overnight vigil at the site to protest the eviction and demolition. There were scuffles between the protesters and police, but no major clashes occurred.

“The forced demolition is unconstitutional,” shouted some of the protesters from outside the fences surrounding the site as workers started to demolish the two two-story houses belonging to the Wang family.

After its approval by the city government, the redevelopment project proposed by the developer, Leyoung, had been stalled for two years because of the Wang family's refusal to move.

Leyoung claimed that the Wangs had been demanding unacceptably high sums of compensation — NT$200 million at one point and NT$500 million at another.

But the family said they had never agreed to the project and had never been asking for money. They said they simply wanted to stay at the place which six generations of their family had called home.

Taipei Mayor Hau Lung-bin justified the action by saying that he had to make a choice between the interests of the minority and majority.

Over 90 percent of the households affected by the project have accepted the terms offered by Leyoung, which forms the legal basis for the project under the urban redevelopment law.

“We can't accommodate the minority's resistance at the expense of the majority's interest,” said Hau.

The site is located in Shilin along the MRT's Tamsui line. The city government approved the project in 2009 despite the Wang family's refusal.

All 36 families that accepted Leyoung's terms already moved out two years ago.

Urban redevelopment regulations formerly required consensus by all households which would be affected by a redevelopment proposal. In order to accelerate the redevelopment process, Taipei revised the law a few years ago to require only the agreement of a majority.

The Wang family will still be entitled to a compensation of NT$74 million.

The United Evening News said Leyoung has already sold out all of the units in the redevelopment, leaving it with no room to revise it to include the Wang family.

The Wang family had been fighting a legal battle against the city and the developer over the past two years, but the highest administrative court recently returned a verdict against the Wangs' appeal.

The city had set a deadline on March 18 for the Wangs to move out.

Police and city officials had a moving company pack and move all the Wang family's possessions out their homes before the demolition began.

City officials said they have arranged temporary accommodation in a nearby hotel for the family, and will subsidize the Wangs' rent after they find a new place to live.
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Old April 10th, 2012, 04:35 PM   #224
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Mon, Apr 09, 2012
FEATURE: A-tsai’s restaurant to be razed by renewal project
Taipei Times with CNA


A fence blocks one end of Lane 41, Renai Road Sec 2 in Taipei yesterday. The historic student movement hangout A-tsai’s restaurant, left, and other buildings on the privately owned lane are slated for demolition in an urban renewal project.
Photo: Chiu Shao-wen, Taipei Times


Once a popular gathering spot for former members of the dangwai (黨外, outside the party) and student movement, A-tsai’s restaurant (阿才的店), located at the crossroads of Jinshan S Road and Renai Road in Taipei City, is soon going to close down permanently or relocate as a result of an urban renewal project, according to A-hua (阿華), the store’s owner.

The term dangwai refers to individuals who participated in politics, but were not members of the Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT) in the period before the formation of the Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) in 1986.

The student movement refers to the Wild Lilies Student Movement (野百合學運) in 1990, when over 6,000 students gathered in front of the Chiang Kai-shek Memorial Hall to protest the National Assembly’s decision to grant its members a nine-year extension in office despite never having been elected in the 40 years since the Republic of China (ROC) government arrived in Taiwan.

A-hua opened the restaurant in 1987 and has been there ever since. It was five to six years ago that construction firms started making inquiries about possible urban renewal projects.

“I took those construction companies to court over the urban renewal project, but I lost the case,” he said

However, the judge ruled that the construction firms should notify him six months prior to the beginning of demolition work even though he was just a tenant.

“I have not received notification yet,” he said.

However, the road has been blocked and a banner hangs from one of the empty homes near the restaurant indicating that the area is due to be demolished for an urban renewal project

A-hua says that this has not only infringed on people’s right of way, but has also hurt his business because many of his customers thought he had closed.

Meanwhile, many former members of the Wild Lilies Student Movement and dangwai movement expressed sadness at the restaurant’s fate.

Former Governmental Information Office minister Cheng Wen-tsang (鄭文燦) said “A-tsai’s restaurant holds many memories.”

Shen Fa-hui (沈發惠), another member of the student movement and now a New Taipei City DPP councilor, said there were very few stores or restaurants like the vintage atmosphere and decor of A-tsai’s, adding that even though many restaurants had attempted to capture the feeling, A-tsai’s was still the only one with that authentic feel

“During the student movement, if you wanted to have a drink, but you couldn’t find anybody to drink with, A-tsai’s was the place to go, because you were bound to meet someone you knew there,” Shen said, adding that “A-tsai’s was a location that held the memories of an entire generation, and if it [the store] just disappears, it would leave behind many regrets.”

DPP Legislator Chen Chi-mai (陳其邁) said A-tsai’s was the equivalent of the “holy land of democracy” and even now many who took part in the Wild Lilies Student Movement still get together there from time to time.

Urban renewal projects should benefit the public, but even before the project gets under way, the construction companies are closing off the roads and -undermining the public interest, Chen said, adding that such an approach was “little different to that of a local thug.”

“I would be very sad if A-tsai’s just vanished,” he said.

DPP Legislator Cheng Li-chiun (鄭麗君), who also took part in the Wild Lilies Student Movement, recalled that those who gathered at A-tsai’s usually discussed the student movement itself and revolutionary ideas.

“The restaurant, for these people, represents ‘years of youth and rebellion,’” she said.

As to the issue of urban renewal projects, Cheng said far more factors should be taken into consideration before they are approved.

They should seek to “rebuild” the city, she said,, adding that the “historical, sentimental, and cultural value” of existing buildings should also be taken into consideration.

“It would be hard to preserve the original atmosphere of A-tsai’s restaurant even if it relocated,” she added.
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Old April 11th, 2012, 03:28 PM   #225
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Wed, Apr 11, 2012
Taipei Times
Taipei councilors lash out at Hau
NOT GOING ANYWHERE:City councilors delayed the mayor’s policy report for more than an hour and called on him to present a report on the Wenlin Yuan project

Taipei City councilors joined across the party lines yesterday to pan Taipei Mayor Hau Lung-bin’s (郝龍斌) handling of the Wenlin Yuan urban renewal project in Shilin District (士林), demanding the mayor present a comprehensive report on the matter.

The city government’s controversial demolition of two buildings last month was front and center on the council floor as councilors took turns criticizing Hau over the case before delaying his policy report for more than an hour.

“In the 50-page policy report, you [Hau] only devoted one page to discussing the city’s handling of the Wenlin Yuan project. Do you think the case is not significant enough to warrant discussion?” Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) Taipei City Councilor Chuang Ruei-hsiung (莊瑞雄) asked.

DPP Taipei City Councilor Tung Chun-yen (童仲彥) used a flashlight to flash Hau and city officials on the council floor in a bid to draw attention to the force used by police during a protest prior to the demolition.

Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT) Councilor Lee Ching-yuan (李慶元) also joined DPP councilors to criticize the city’s handling of the case and urged Hau to present a special report on the project.

“Mayor Hau, you pledged to remake Taipei into a city full of dreams and warmth, but how can people trust you after the Wang family’s houses were torn down for the urban renewal project?” Lee asked.

In a move to delay Hau’s policy report, DPP councilors then chanted “Dictatorial mayor! Dictatorial city government!” and occupied the council floor, urging Hau to offer an apology for demolishing the buildings owned by the Wang family after they had refused to take part in the urban renewal project.

“The Wenlin Yuan case is a demonstration of systemic violence and highlights the arrogance of city officials. Mayor Hau owes the public an apology,” DPP Taipei City Councilor Lee Chien-chan (李建昌) said.

In response, Hau reiterated that the city government had adhered to the Urban Renewal Act (都市更新條例) in carrying out the demolition, although he expressed sympathy for the Wang family’s situation.

“I understand that the demolition has spark disputes, but as head of the local government, I must follow the regulations. I understand the feelings of the Wang family and the 36 other households, and I regret that the demolition caused a great dispute,” he said.

Hau promised to continue to communicate with the Wang family and address their needs, as well as discuss the flaws in current regulations with academics and experts.
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Old April 12th, 2012, 06:45 AM   #226
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Tue, Apr 10, 2012
Restaurant opening looks to breathe life into the Taipei Circle
Taipei Times with CNA

Taipei Mayor Hau Lung-bin (郝龍斌) yesterday attended the opening of the renovated Taipei Circle, the city’s oldest food market, saying that a new management team would breathe new life into the market.

The market’s new operator, Taipei Circle Co, said the public would now have the chance to sample state-banquet cuisine at a restaurant on the second floor of the circular structure located at the intersection of Chongqing N and Nanjing W roads.

The circle market, or Jiancheng Circle, traces its history back to the Japanese colonial era. The market fell into decline following fires in 1993 and 1999, and the shifting of businesses to the more modern eastern part of Taipei. The old building was demolished and a cylindrical glass building took its place, but the new space was not well received.

The market closed in 2006 in the face of heavy financial losses, by which time only six food vendors remained. It was reopened in 2009, but an operating dispute resulted in its closure last year.

Hau said the lessons of the past have been learned.

“With the latest renovation, we hope to revive people’s memories of the circle as a place with good food. The new management team have learned from past mistakes and made changes, bringing out the advantages of the circle, while eliminating its defects,” Hau said.

Leading the new management team, Sandra Yu (余湘), president of GroupM Taiwan, a branch of the media investment management company GroupM, worked together with celebrity chef Huang Te-chung (黃德忠) and designer Lamech (藍米克) to revive the market.

Yu invited Huang, better known as A-chung, to establish a restaurant at the circle to serve state-banquet dishes at affordable prices, while Lamech, the grand prize winner of the Taipei International Flora Expo’s flower design competition, was tasked with redesigning the building.

Huang organized state banquets for former presidents Lee Teng-hui (李登輝) and Chen Shui-bian (陳水扁).

The state banquet dishes created by Huang will cost NT$6,000 per table and feature dozens of Taiwanese dishes, company officials said.

Several organic food vendors will set up shop on the first floor, they added.
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Old April 18th, 2012, 06:34 PM   #227
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Mon, Apr 16, 2012
Activists dump soil on MRT site
AUSPICIOUS:The activists and Losheng Sanatorium residents prayed to the spirits of deceased residents and the Land God for blessing in filling in an MRT depot site
Taipei Times

Dumping bags of soil onto the construction site of a Mass Rapid Transit (MRT) maintenance depot on the border of New Taipei City (新北市) and Taoyuan County, Losheng (Happy Family) Sanatorium preservation activists yesterday vowed to fill in the construction site — which has allegedly triggered landslides on the hill where the sanatorium stands — by themselves if the government did not do so.

“If the government does nothing, we’ll do something,” Losheng preservation activists shouted as they dumped bags of soil onto the construction site of an MRT maintenance depot on the border of New Taipei City’s Sinjhuang District (新莊) and Taoyuan County’s Gueishan Township (龜山).

Before dumping the soil, the activists and Losheng residents held a ceremony to inform the -spirits of deceased Losheng residents and the Land God (土地公) of what they planned to do, asking them for their blessing.

The construction site was formerly part of a sanatorium that was completed in the 1930s and housed people with Hansen’s disease, commonly known as leprosy. However, when construction workers flattened a hill on the land to make way for the maintenance depot, it caused landslides on a portion of the sanatorium that was preserved, activists said, adding that it led to cracks in the remaining sanatorium buildings.

“Three centimeter to 4cm cracks have been appearing in buildings since March last year, and the Department of Rapid Transit Systems responded by suspending construction in July,” said Wang Wei-min (王偉民), a civil engineer who has been a long-time supporter of the movement. “The department supposedly fixed the problem, then restarted construction in September. However, cracks began to appear again, so construction was halted again at the end of October last year.”

The cracks should not be growing because construction has stopped, Wang said, but in a worrisome sign, they have been growing wider, which could mean there is a “continuous landslide underground.”

Wang said he was worried about the possibility of a massive landslide in the coming rainy and typhoon seasons.

Since October, no progress has been made on the depot because the department had been unable to find a permanent solution to the landslide issue.

“There would be no problem if the department simply abandoned the maintenance depot project, -because, as we can see, the Sinjhuang MRT line has already been inaugurated without it,” said Chung Yuan Christian University architecture professor Yu Chao-chin (喻肇青), who is also a long-time supporter of the preservation campaign. “In fact, the Taoyuan County Government said it would welcome an extension of the MRT line into its jurisdiction, and it has already prepared a plot of land to be used for the maintenance depot — so why not take the alternative plan?”
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Old April 23rd, 2012, 04:47 AM   #228
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Mon, Apr 23, 2012
Sex workers call for preservation of former brothel
PAVING OVER HISTORY:Protestors say that because many anti--colonial groups met in the area near the Wen Meng Building, it is of special historical import
Taipei Times

When an urban renewal project involves a building, a block or an area with historical or cultural value, everything possible should be done to preserve the location in question, participants told a forum yesterday.

The comments were made during a forum organized by the Collective of Sex Workers and Supporters (COSWAS) in Taipei on urban renewal and preservation of historic sites.

“We all agree that urban renewal is necessary to beautify older parts of a city, which might become run down as time passes,” COSWAS secretary-general Wang Fang-ping (王芳萍) told the forum. “However, when a urban renewal project involves historical buildings or areas, we must be very careful and make preservation of the historic site the main objective of the project.”

It is about time we redefined “urban renewal” in this country, after the controversial demolition of the home of the Wang family in Taipei City’s Shilin District (士林) and an urban renewal project still in the preparatory stage that could impact the Wen Meng Building (文萌樓), Wang said.

The Wen Meng Building is one of the historical buildings in Taipei’s Datong District (大同). It was used as a brothel from the Japanese colonial period until all licensed brothels were abolished by the city government in 2001, and now houses the collective’s headquarters.

The Wen Meng Building was recently sold and a number of construction firms have expressed an interest in launching an urban renewal project in the area, prompting the collective and its supporters to mobilize.

“Article 6 of the Urban Renewal Act [都市更新條例] stipulates that sites with historic, cultural, or artistic value that are in need of preservation or maintenance could be designated as an urban renewal project sites,” Wang said. “Please note that the objective of an urban renewal project in this context is to protect sites with historical value not damage them.”

“The area was designated a red light district for Taiwanese in the early 1900s by the Japanese colonial government and according to official figures in 1917, there were 420 registered prostitutes in the area,” Wang said. “There are many very interesting stories connected to this area.”

Chiang Wei-shui’s Cultural Foundation executive director Chiang Chao-ken (蔣朝根), who is also the grandson of Chiang Wei-shui (蔣渭水), a leader in resisting the Japanese colonial regime, supports the objectives of the collective.

“Many important anti--colonial organizations developed and had headquarters in the area surrounding the Wen Meng Building, it would be a pity if the area was simply ‘renewed’ and the old buildings replaced with high-rise luxury apartment or office towers,” -Chiang Chao-ken said. “A people with no respect for history are a cruel people.”

A representative of Taipei City’s Department of Cultural Affairs promised that the Wen Meng building would not be demolished as it was already designated a historical building.

However, participants asked that the entire block — not just one building — be considered part of a future urban renewal project.
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Old April 28th, 2012, 08:37 AM   #229
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Tue, Apr 24, 2012
New cultural park on track to open next year: Hau
Taipei Times with CNA


Workers standing behind an artist’s impression of the planned Songshan Cultural and Creative Park watch a beam-setting ceremony on the build-operate-transfer construction site in Taipei yesterday.
Photo: CNA


A new cultural and creative park that includes historic buildings and a modern complex is expected to open in Taipei next year, Taipei Mayor Hau Lung-bin (郝龍斌) said yesterday.

The Songshan Cultural and Creative Park will bring an artistic flavor to the Xinyi (信義) and Songshan (松山) districts, which are -better known as financial services and tourism hubs, Hau said.

The mayor said he hoped the new park, located on the site of the historic Songshan Tobacco Factory, would help make Taipei the cultural and creative capital of the “ethnic Chinese world.”

The complex will include a hotel, a cultural and creative bazaar, an auditorium, a digital learning center and other cultural facilities, said Daniel Tsai (蔡明忠), chairman of Fubon Financial Holding Co, which will operate the facility.

The Eslite bookstore chain will have a store in the complex and other services such as music stores and movie theaters will be added, Tsai said.

The new building on the 1.2-hectare site has 14 floors above ground and four underground.

The project started in November 2010 under the build-operate-transfer model and is expected to be completed by May next year, Hau said.

It will be the second complex of its kind in the city, alongside Huashan 1914 Creative Park in Zhongzheng District (中正).
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Old May 4th, 2012, 10:26 AM   #230
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Fri, May 04, 2012
Demolition talks flounder
WANGS WALK OUT:Negotiations to find a resolution to the controversial housing project that tore down the Wang family’s buildings fail to make any resolutions
Taipei Times

Attendees of talks between the Wang family, whose property in Taipei’s Shilin District was forcibly demolished as part of an urban renewal project, other owners of property demolished for the project and the contractors, engage in a heated discussion at Taipei City Council yesterday.
Photo: George Tsorng, Taipei Times

A three-way negotiation on the controversial urban renewal project in Taipei’s Shilin District (士林) broke down yesterday as the Wang family, who refused to take part in the project, walked out after the construction firm failed to accept their demand that their two houses be rebuilt on the original site.

The negotiation between the Wang family, Le Yang construction company and representatives of 36 landowners involved in the project was held yesterday at Taipei City Council in the latest effort to resolve disputes over the project, which has been stalled for almost three years due to disagreement from the Wang family.

The Taipei City Government’s demolition in March of two houses which belonged to the Wang family sparked an ongoing protest from land justice advocates, escalating tensions between the 36 households and the Wangs.

Wang Yao-teh (王耀德) accompanied his parents and other family members to the negotiation, and said the family’s demand for the construction firm to revise its plan and allow them to rebuild the houses on the site remained unchanged.

“As long as the construction firm agrees to modify the construction plan and not include the Wang family in the plan, we can rebuild our houses. We want to find a perfect solution for all, but the construction firm didn’t want to make any compromises,” he said.

Landowners who took part in the project said they were also victims because the delay has left them without their homes. They called on the city government to exercise its authority to help solve the issue.

“We have followed the regulations in the process of urban renewal, and now we became victims of this project. All we want is to move in to the new building and return home,” a landowner named Lee Tsai-yun (李彩雲) said.

Yuan Ruo-ying (袁如盈), a divisional chief at Taipei City’s Urban Redevelopment Office, said the city government has exercised its authority in demolishing the houses to make way for the legally sanctioned project, and said the city government can offer only administrative assistance from this point forward.

Keating Hsu (許獻進), a lawyer of the construction firm, said the company had correctly followed all laws and regulations in applying for the project and it would be impossible for the Wang family to rebuild their houses on the site, as the firm has obtained a construction license for the land.

“The company is willing to give them five units in the new building, and all of their neighbors will also move in to the building. They will live in new homes that are built on the site where their old houses were situated. We’ve followed all legal procedures and communicated with the family numerous times, and we don’t know what else we can do,” he said.

Since the Wang family and the construction firm both refused to make any concessions, some of the landowners involved in the project started quarreling with the Wang family, urging them to stop the protest and allow construction to begin.

The project, which will turn 38 old households into a 15-story building, is stalled as the Wang family and supporters continue to protest on the site.

Representatives of the other landowners said they will organize more negotiations in an effort to solve the dispute. Wang Yao-teh declined to confirm whether his family will join future negotiations.
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Old June 16th, 2012, 07:47 AM   #231
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Fri, Jun 15, 2012
Taipei Times
Ministry drafts amendments to Urban Renewal Act

Minister of the Interior Lee Hong-yuan speaks during a press conference at the ministry yesterday about proposed amendments to the Urban Renewal Act that the ministry will submit to the legislature.
Photo: Wang Yi-sung, Taipei Times

Following a series of controversial decisions concerning urban renewal projects, the Ministry of the Interior (MOI) has drafted amendments to the Urban Renewal Act (都市更新條例) — as the minister promised in March — aimed at better protecting the rights of property owners.

“To eliminate controversies surrounding urban renewal, after three conferences, five law-revision panel meetings and nine Cabinet meetings we have come up with a series of amendments to the Urban Renewal Act that we hope will go some way toward protecting the rights of all stakeholders,” Minister of the Interior Lee Hong-yuan (李鴻源) told a press conference at the ministry yesterday.

“Forty-eight out of 67 articles in the current law will be revised, 17 new clauses are to be added, while one article is to be removed,” he added.

At present, the law only offers minimal protection to property owners, especially those who are the subject of an urban renewal project.

For instance, the value of property is currently estimated by real estate appraisers hired by the construction firm that initiates the renewal project; a property owner opposed to an urban renewal -project is given just one opportunity to object; and as long as two thirds of land or property owners in a certain area agree to the project, the properties of those who are opposed to it can be seized by force, regardless of their owners’ wishes.

“In the draft amendments, the value of property has to be determined by appraisers hired by both the construction firm, or whoever initiates the project, and property owners, based on the estimated increased property value after the renewal,” he said. “The threshold for approval has also increased — four-fifths of the land or property owners involved must express consent before a project can now be approved.”

In addition, land or property owners will be given more opportunities to express their opposition to a project and when there is dispute, the courts will have the final say, Lee said.

Construction and Planning Agency Director-General Yeh Shih-wen (葉世文) said that while the current law leaves it to the initiator of a urban renewal project — usually a construction firm — and property owners to resolve their disputes, the proposed amendments would include government and court intervention if the two sides fail to come to a mutually acceptable solution.

Urban renewal issues attracted considerable public attention in March when the homes of the Wang (王) family in Taipei’s Shilin District (士林) were demolished to make way for a construction firm-initiated urban renewal project, despite the strenuous objections of the family.

The Taipei City Government said the Wangs did not express their opposition soon enough and were thus considered to have legally consented to the project. Also, because three-fourths of the -residents in the area agreed to it, the opposition of the Wangs was legally invalid.

The forced demolition of their properties, which came after physical clashes between more than 1,000 police officers and as many as 400 supporters of the Wang family, triggered a public outrage.

The city government later admitted there were “deficiencies” with the urban renewal law and the minister promised to come up with amendments to be presented to the legislature.
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Old June 24th, 2012, 06:14 AM   #232
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Sun, Jun 24, 2012
Taipei Times
Critic blasts Taipei’s NT$2bn pool plan
MONEY PIT:A city councilor questioned the need to build the pool for the Universiade when a temporary pool would cost only NT$50m, in keeping with international trends

A Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) Taipei City councilor yesterday lashed out at the city government for budgeting NT$2 billion (US$66.7 million) to build a swimming pool for the Summer Universiade in 2017, urging the city to instead build temporary pools for the sports event.

Taipei will budget a total of NT$42.5 billion to host the Universiade, an international sports event for university students.

Because the swimming pool the city government built for the Taipei International Deaflympics in 2009 failed to meet the standards for international games, the city will budget NT$2 billion to build a new pool for the Universiade.

DPP Taipei City Councilor Kao Chia-yu (高嘉瑜) questioned the necessity of investing so much money in a new swimming pool and said many international swimming competitions, including the World Swimming Championships held in Brazil in 1995 and in Shanghai last year, used temporary pools, which cost much less.

“The cost of a temporary pool is only about NT$50 million, and many countries are building such pools at existing stadiums for international games to save time and money. The city government’s plan of allocating a huge budget to a fancy swimming pool goes against international trends,” Kao said at a press conference.

The city government spent NT$80 million to build a swimming pool for the Deaflympics in 2009, but was unable to use the pool for other competitions because the facilities did not meet most international standards.

The city had planned to use a NT$1.2 billion swimming pool at Taipei Physical Education College for the competition, but decided to build a new one in Dazhi District (大直) after it also failed to meet international standards.

Besides a new swimming pool, the city will also build a new basketball court, a tennis court and a volleyball court, with a cost of NT$10 billion.

“The city still lacks international-standard sports facilities after spending a lot of money on the Deaflympics, and now wants to waste taxpayers’ money and build more facilities. The city government should try to use existing facilities for the sports event, rather than building new and fancy sports centers that could be deserted afterward,” she said.

Taipei Department of Education Deputy Commissioner Tseng Tsan-chin (曾燦金) said 93 percent of the sports facilities used in the Universiade will be in existing locations.

As to the swimming pool, the new pool will be used for other competitions in the future, he said.

“There is no swimming facility in Taipei that meets the requirements for international competitions, and we will take this opportunity to build one that can be used for both professional competitions at international games and for recreational purposes by residents in the future,” he said.

The Universiade will be the largest international event hosted by Taipei since the Summer Deaf-lympics in 2009 and the Taipei International Flora Expo in 2010.
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Old June 24th, 2012, 06:23 AM   #233
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Old June 25th, 2012, 06:03 PM   #234
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Mon, Jun 25, 2012
Taipei Times
Wealthy developer offers sector views
As the government begins to outline its planned restrictions on urban renewal projects and real-estate financing, Chong Hong Construction Co chairman Lee Wen-tsao gives his insight and perspective as an industry-insider on the hotly-debated matter in an interview with “Taipei Times” staff reporter Crystal Hsu

Taipei Times: The government plans to tighten requirements for urban renewal projects to better protect the rights of land owners. What are your views on the move?

Lee Wen-tsao (李文造): Authorities concerned should figure out for themselves what they really want. Urban regeneration is already a very difficult undertaking within the existing rules. Successful cases are few and far between, given the amount of time and resources required. I suggest the government either take full responsibility for initiating urban renewal projects or simply wash its hands of it, which would allow construction companies and land owners to settle disputes among themselves.

The government cannot encourage urban regeneration while seeking to tie the hands of construction firms. Such a practice is contradictory and hurts all parties involved as demonstrated by the stymied case with the Wang family in Taipei’s Shihlin District (士林). At least 80 percent of existing houses in Taiwan could collapse if a massive earthquake (measuring 7.6 on the Richter Scale) were to hit, like the one in 1999. Safety concerns alone lend support to urban regeneration projects because houses built since then are more quake-resistant.

TT: What are your views on the central bank’s moves to tighten lending for luxury houses?

Lee: I don’t think it is fair or wise. Global central banks are easing monetary policies to stimulate economic growth and the central bank should bear that in mind.

While the construction sector is only part of the industry, it plays a critical role in driving the economy. If the sector goes into recession, then other businesses — such as suppliers of plastic, steel, furniture, hardware and home appliances — will suffer as well. The government is well aware of the potential fallout, but is unwilling to admit it for political reasons.

The central bank has already tightened real-estate financing and it asked state-run banks to raise interest rates to 2 percent on land and mortgage loans, whereas borrowing costs for companies in other sectors are lower than that threshold.

Nevertheless, the interest rates remain very low and will continue to shore up housing prices. Idle funds will keep flowing into real estate as they serve as a better defense against inflation and market volatility. The lack of alternative investment choices also lends a helping hand.

TT: How will the housing market fare for the rest of the year with economic downside risks increasingly evident?

Lee: Efforts to predict the performance of the local housing market based on past experience or on the global economy have proved futile. Personally, I don’t see a bubble on the horizon as some academics have been warning would happen for years.

The belief that “to own land is to own wealth” (有土斯有財) is deeply ingrained in Chinese culture and accounts for sustained demand for home ownership.

On average, housing prices in Greater Taipei doubled over the past decade, with nationwide figures only slightly lower. That translates into an increase of 10 percent a year, a healthy profit amid GDP growth of 5 percent, in my view.

Housing prices doubled in 1973 and 1979 and threefold in 1990. The government did not take action to check the property fever, but prices stabilized of their own accord. That is how the market economy works — regulated by an invisible hand.

Surely, the current boom cycle cannot last forever, but I don’t spot the need for a big correction in another 20 or 30 years when the low birth-rate may start to impact on the market.

TT: What are Chang Hong Construction Co’s (長虹建設) development plans for this year?

Lee: Since its creation in 1973, Chang Hong has focused its business in Greater Taipei, where most people live and work, and it has no intention of shifting this strategy.

New construction projects total NT$20 billion [US$668.89 million] this year, a big jump from last year’s NT$5 billion. Luxury housing projects in the districts of Nankang (南港) and Neihu (內湖) were sold out in April and May respectively. The two projects would generate about NT$10 billion. We also plan to auction an office building later this year that may contribute an extra NT$10 billion.

The planned launches of new housing projects in Linkou (林口) and Yingge (鶯歌) districts in New Taipei City (新北市) will likely have to wait until the fourth quarter or early next year. It takes a longer time than expected to obtain building permits. The delay has nothing to do with the business cycle.

TT: Some developers and construction firms have expanded into the hospitality and retail sectors to cash in on the influx in Chinese tourists, while others have turned to central and southern Taiwan. Is Chang Hong interested in southward expansion or cross-sector investment?

Lee: I don’t like to enter unfamiliar territory. Running tourist hotels is not my forte and nor is investment outside of Greater Taipei. The building industry is old, but still replete with innovation and opportunity. It is equally challenging and satisfying to reinvent for business sectors that I know well.

I’ve heard housing transactions are gaining momentum in central and southern Taiwan. I have no doubt housing prices are catching up there. However, I don’t think they can match Greater Taipei’s pace, which has outperformed both GDP growth and the rate of inflation.

I think, while real-estate investments in southern Taiwan are generating better returns, they will not be significant enough after factoring in transaction fees, interest expense, inflation and other overheads.

TT: What do you think of the government’s efforts to promote fairness and social justice through tax reforms?

Lee: The business sector is willing to make charitable donations, but it resists heavier tax burdens because taxes do not always benefit disadvantaged groups or enhance corporate image. The government is turning the issue into a war against the rich by proposing capital gains from securities transactions and is likely to do the same with real estate investments later on.

With 80 percent of Taiwanese owning houses, it is not surprising that some own more than one home and also perhaps an expensive home. There will be more resistance if the government seeks to tax properties based on their real prices rather than publicly designated values. The move would affect many people and entails revisions to the Constitution, where land taxes are enshrined.

Hon Hai Precision Industry Co (鴻海精密) chairman Terry Gou (郭台銘) aimed to humor the government when he suggested taxing the nation’s 300 richest people and sparing general stock investors. The government should concentrate on boosting the economy and take steps to allow all to benefit from the growth in GDP.
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Old June 26th, 2012, 05:22 PM   #235
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Sat, Jun 23, 2012
Shilin urban renewal protest turns violent
Taipei Times

A protest against an urban development project in Taipei’s Shilin District (士林) yesterday descended into violence after the construction firm involved sent workers to clean up the site, drawing new attention to a controversial project that has been stalled for more than three years.

The urban renewal project, approved by the Taipei City Government, has been stalled despite the government sanctioning the demolition of two houses belonging to a family surnamed Wang (王), who were against the project. The family and a group of supporters have camped out at the site ever since and are insisting that the construction firm rebuild their houses.

The latest clash occurred yesterday morning when Le Young Construction Co (樂揚建設) placed a dumpster on the site and started to clean up debris.

The move was met with a protest by the Wang family and their supporters, who pushed and shoved the construction workers, accusing them of trespassing on private property.

Amid the clashes, a member of the Urban Renewal Victims’ Alliance, surnamed Kuo (郭), accused construction workers of pushing him and tearing his pants, while police stood by.

“The urban renewal project is a violent collaboration between the city government and the construction firm,” he said.

Some construction workers also accused the protesters of injuring them during the clashes and they filed complaints with the police.

The construction company defended the legitimacy of its actions by producing a document that it claimed said the city government had asked the firm to clean up the site ahead of further construction.

However, the city’s Construction Management Office denied issuing any document asking the construction firm to clean up the site.

The Taipei City Government has been criticized over its handling of the project, under which the construction firm plans to turn an old residential complex of 38 households into a 15-story high-rise apartment block. It evicted the Wang family in March, despite ongoing protests, and later agreed to help the Wang family and the construction firm negotiate over the project.

Members of the Wang family yesterday said they would not agree to the project unless the construction firm rebuilt their houses on the site.

Although the family has refused to give up its land, the construction firm had already received the consent of more than 75 percent of the landowners on the site. However, the deadlock over the project continues as negotiations between the construction firm, the Wang family and the other landowners have failed to reach an amicable conclusion.
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Old July 5th, 2012, 04:54 AM   #236
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Wednesday, July 4, 2012 0:10 am TWN
Gov't breaks ground on new exhibition hall
CNA

TAIPEI -- Taiwan's government broke ground on a new exhibition hall in Nangang District in Taipei yesterday to address the increasing demand for floor space at international exhibitions.

The NT$7.26 billion Taipei Nangang Exhibition Center Hall 2 will be built on a 3.36-hectare lot opposite Hall 1 and is expected to be completed by the end of 2015, according to the Ministry of Economic Affairs.

The nine-floor building will be able to accommodate 2,362 exhibition booths and conference space for 2,400 people when it begins operations in 2016, ministry officials said.

Premier Sean Chen said the development of the exhibition industry will help Taiwanese enterprises learn new technologies, find new trade partners or seek targets for acquisitions at a wide array of international trade fairs held at the venue.

“It's not (about) what you know. It's (about) who you know,” Chen said at a groundbreaking ceremony.

The premier noted that the addition of the new hall will bring the total floor area of Taipei's exhibition halls to 100,000 square meters, but that will still lag behind other countries with more mature exhibition industries.

Germany's four biggest exhibition halls all have at least 300,000 square meters of space, Chen said, and Germany ranks as only the world's third-largest exhibition hall provider behind the United States and China.
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Old July 21st, 2012, 02:56 PM   #237
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Fri, Jul 20, 2012
Taipei City greenlights Ronald McDonald House
Taipei Times

The Taipei City Government yesterday approved a building-use license for a temporary housing project for children undergoing cancer treatment by Ronald McDonald House Charities Taiwan in Daan District (大安), as initial opposition to the project fizzled.

Taipei City’s Construction Management Office approved the license change from a housing residence to a temporary shelter for the building located on Jinshan S Road Sec 2, in accordance with the Construction Act (建築法).

The approval of the license came after an initial dispute over the establishment of the temporary shelter in Jinan Borough (錦安). Three local residents initiated a campaign against the project last week, claiming that the diseases could be contagious and the project could hurt the district’s image.

The three residents apologized on Wednesday and said they had been “misguided.”

Taipei City Government spokesman Chang Chi-chiang (張其強) said Taipei Mayor Hau Lung-bin (郝龍斌) has instructed the office to help with the project’s construction.

To resolve any misunderstanding about the project in the neighborhood, the city government will hold a meeting with residents on Monday night to discuss related issues. Hau, top city officials, representatives from the charity group and local borough chiefs will attend the meeting, Chang said.

“The majority of the residents of Jinan Borough are supportive of the housing project, but a small group of people has also expressed their concern. We hope that by communicating with residents, they can gain a better understanding of the purpose of the shelter,” he said.

According to deputy chief engineer of the office Chiu Ying-jer (邱英哲), the charity group applied with the office for the building-use license change on June 15. With the approval granted, construction will proceed as scheduled.

The city’s Department of Health said the project’s objective was to offer lodging to children from out of town or overseas who are staying in Taipei for intensive treatment for cancer or cardiopulmonary diseases.

A similar center has been set up in Neihu District (內湖).
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Old July 23rd, 2012, 02:19 PM   #238
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Mon, Jul 23, 2012
Universiade a great chance for Taiwan image boost: forum
Taipei Times

As the host city for the 2017 Universiade, Taipei should seize the opportunity to enhance its international visibility and reputation, experts said at a forum held by Fubon Art Foundation in Taipei.

“The thing that Taiwan needs most right now is a platform to make friends with the rest of the world. International conventions, exhibitions and sports events are important ways to promote Taiwan,” Alliance Culture Foundation chairman Stanley Yen (嚴長壽), who is also popularly known as “the Godfather of the Hotel Industry,” told the forum on Saturday.

Taiwan’s bureaucracy has gradually lost its ability to communicate with international community since the nation lost its UN seat in 1971, Yen added with decades-long isolation from the international community prompting the nation to look inward rather than outward.

“We have become localized,” the travel-industry veteran said. “And yet we have a rich culture and enjoy great freedom. We should understand our strength and show it to the world.”

Organized by the International University Sports Federation (FISU), the Universiade is a biennial international sporting competition for university students and the second-largest sports event after the Olympics in terms of member nations and number of participating athletes, according to Taiwan’s federation executive committee member, Chen Tai-cheng (陳太正).

More than 12,000 athletes are expected to participate in the 2017 Summer Universiade, Chen added, compared to about 6,000 at the World Games 2009 in Kaohsiung and 3,000 at the Deaflympics in Taipei in 2009.

Chen said, in the final evaluation by FISU’s executive committee, Taipei was able to beat the Brazilian capital, Brasilia, because it won votes in three main categories: political aspects, finances and sporting facilities.

“Taipei won [the political aspects category] by a mere four votes,” the committee member added. “China, Hong Kong and Mongolia voted for us.”

On the issue of sporting facilities, Chen said President Ma Ying-jeou (馬英九) last week made it clear that the rule of thumb for the project is “to use existing facilities as much as possible.”

There will be no need to spend NT$2 billion (US$66.7 million) on building a swimming pool for the Universiade, which the Taipei City Government originally planned to do, Chen said, since representatives from FISU have agreed there is an existing pool in the city that meets international games standards.

Regarding the city government’s plan to turn a park in New Taipei City’s (新北市) Linkou District (林口) into the athletes’ village for the Universiade, Chen stressed that there would be a “sustainable” re-use of the village which is designed to serve as welfare housing units for locals after the sporting event is over.

“It is like building a new town for the locals,” the committee member said.

However, residents in Linkou reportedly think otherwise. In May, an alliance composed of community colleges, social organizations and local residents launched a petition against the plan, saying it would damage the surrounding natural environment.
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Old July 25th, 2012, 09:39 AM   #239
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Updated Wednesday, July 25, 2012 0:13 am TWN
The China Post
Finance commission bars Ruentex from Nan Shan Life project

The Cabinet-level Financial Supervisory Commission (FSC) reaffirmed yesterday the rules prohibiting the Ruentex Financial Group from participating in a property development project to be undertaken by Nan Shan Life Insurance Co., one of its many affiliates.

Executives of Nan Shan Life gave a report to the FSC about its successful winning of the rights to develop the Second Exhibition Hall at the Taipei World Trade Center.

They also expressed the hope that the Ruentex Group could take part in the costly development project in view of its massive financial resources which can make the venture more successful.

However, FSC officials said that Ruentex already made the pledge of not getting involved with certain business ventures of Nan Shan Life when the group mounted a campaign to defeat other investors to take over the insurance firm from its original owner.

They said Nan Shan Life executives expressed their understanding about the promise made by Ruentex that none of the group's affiliates will take part in the insurance company's development projects or investment plans.

The Ruentex Group is one of the major business and financial conglomerates in Taiwan with extensive operations in finance, textiles, real estate development, cement, construction, healthcare, and retail business.

The group's RT-Mart operates extensive wholesale store chains in both Taiwan and mainland China.

There are three companies of the Ruentex Group traded on the stock market, including Ruentex Industries Co., Ruentex Development Co., and Ruentex Engineering & Construction Co.

The group beat other bidders to acquire Nan Shan Life from the New York-based American International Group (AIG) which decided to sell the Taiwan insurance firm for cash fund.

When granting its approval to the deal, the FSC set certain restricting conditions concerning Ruentex's future business operations related to Nan Shan Life.
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Old July 26th, 2012, 03:20 PM   #240
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Kelti Center / Artech Architects

Architects: Artech Architects
Location: Taipei City, Taiwan
Design Team: Glen Lu, Kuo-Chien Shen, Grace Lin, Yi-Ting Cheng, Huei-Chen Hsu, Yen-Kai Huang, Hsiu-Chuan Wu, Jun-Ren Chou, David Chang, Calvin Chen, Su-Ping Lo, Wen-Feng Chen
Project Area: 5,864 sqm
Lot Coverage Area: 2,340 sqm
Total Floor Area: 28,824 sqm
Client: Jing Yung Gi Investment Co., Ltd
Project Year: 2009
Photographs: Jeffrey Cheng

Located in downtown Taipei, the KeltiCenter is a complex that houses corporate offices, an event hall on the top floor and commercial spaces on the lower levels. Adopting the existing narrow rectangular form from the site with an east-west orientation, the building is set back from the street on the west side, enabling space for a generous open plaza with wide platform stairs.

Two low-rise volumes flanked by the service cores on each side and a high-rise structure suspended from the “portal frame” make up the entire complex. The space between the lower volumes forms the building’s entrance. The high-rise structure resembles crystallized rock with alternating dark and light-colored glazing, and is supported by the service core enclosed by a stone façade, creating an image of trendy elegance and light-hearted tectonics.

The building’s lower commercial levels are designated for showrooms and restaurants. The middle section houses the corporate offices, and the top floor is a sky-lit, 13.5-meter-high event hall with a spectacular view to the city. Natural sunlight streams into the restaurants in the basement from the expansive first floor lobby. The service cores are located on the north and south sides to give maximum flexibility for the spaces in between.

Source: www.archdaily.com































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