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Old July 26th, 2012, 03:56 PM   #241
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wow, this tower is great!! amazing!
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Old August 1st, 2012, 11:06 AM   #242
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Wed, Aug 01, 2012
Private townhouse reopens for exhibition
MAKING AN EXHIBITION:A secretive residence, once the high-walled home of a doctor, is opening its doors to a curious public with a range of artworks filling its interior
Taipei Times

Enveloped in an air of mystery for the past five decades, a red-brick townhouse situated close to Taipei’s bustling eastern district has now cracked open its gates to visitors in the lead-up to its renovation.

The two-story townhouse with its white-painted steel fences and fancy carvings had once been the residence of a doctor, and with its high walls effectively removing the house and its gardens from public sight, it has constantly been a topic of discussion for passers-by.

However, now the veil of mystery is to be lifted after the house was sold to the Fubon Financial Group.

As part of the group’s ongoing “Very Fun Park” event, it has opened the townhouse’s gates to a curious public for the first time in the house’s history.

Fourteen artists have been invited to use the townhouse’s interior — eight rooms and two sitting rooms — and exterior to mount exhibitions.

Despite the artists’ works, the former owner’s occupation can still be felt in the way the rooms have been partitioned off, the occasional sack of medicine and a medical journal or two cluttering the corners of the house.

Stepping through the door, artist Heidi Voet’s rug — “woven” from 3,000 digital watches — can be seen in front of the first- floor fireplace, and as each watch strikes the hour, various works of classical music can be heard resonating from the carpet.

The work of Akiko Ikeda, inspired by pop-up books, features small 3D figurines which have been sculpted from the surfaces of magazines which are scattered around the library, creating the impression of Lilliputians inhabiting the room.

Ujino, another artist, fashioned the The District of Plywood City for his Rotor series by using a blender, electric drills, guitars and phonograph records.

Kang Ya-chu (康雅筑) recreated a miniature version of the townhouse by weaving together felted wool, hoping to express through the material itself her idea of “home.”

Meanwhile, Hsu Wei-hui (徐薇蕙) created a flower which hangs on the walls of the restroom by intricately lacing facial masks together, hoping to express through the creases and folds in the masks the passage of time. In another series using the same medium, Hsu laced the facial masks into the form of a gun, using the paradox of portraying a firearm — traditionally a masculine symbol — made from a feminine product to symbolize the hidden strengths of women.

The Film of Light by Tao Ya-lun (陶亞倫) attempts to create for his audience the sense of entering an alien dimension through the creation of kaleidoscopic walls of light in a darkened room.

In the courtyard of the townhouse, there sits a spectacular Alice’s Doughnut, under which visitors can sit on a chair. The imagery and name is designed to evoke Wonderland in Lewis Carroll’s Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland.
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Old August 3rd, 2012, 04:45 PM   #243
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Fri, Aug 03, 2012
Taipei Times
New-home market on the up: report
GOOD SHOWING:Transactions in new projects jumped 17 percent last month from June, with analysts attributing the rise to new registration rules and rising sentiment

The new-home market fared better than the nation’s major economic bellwethers last month as new construction volume picked up and the room for price concessions narrowed, a report by the Chinese-language Housing Monthly showed yesterday.

The monthly market-sentiment signal flashed a third “yellow-blue” light, suggesting the market is shifting gears, with the total score just one point away from the stable “green” light, the report said.

“While the nation’s economy remains in slowdown mode, the new-home market appears to find support in terms of construction volume and price levels,” according to the magazine’s researcher, Chen Yun-ru (陳韻如).

Developers added more than 400 presale housing units last month, raising the total estimated value by NT$16.5 billion (US$55 million) from June, with new projects mostly located in Sansia (三峽), Tamsui (淡水) and Sinjhuang (新莊) in New Taipei City (新北市); Taoyuan and northern Hsinchu, the report said.

Transactions jumped 17 percent last month from June, while the number of potential buyers grew by 6.53 percent and housing advertisements increased by 6 percent, the report said.

Chen attributed the pickup to the implementation on Wednesday of registration rules that require buyers, brokers and administrative agents to file transaction details, including prices.

Some investors prefered to withhold trading information from the government for fear it could be used to increase their tax burdens, Chen said.

The Ministry of Finance has said it would mull the possibility of taxing real-estate properties based on their real prices after collecting sufficient data.

The room for bargaining tightened last month with the index shedding 4 percentage points to 10.4 percent, the report said.

Record high offers by domestic developers and life insurance companies to acquire properties in the capital’s prime Xinyi District (信義) also helped boost sentiment, Chen said.

On July 20, Nan Shan Life Insurance Co (南山人壽), the nation’s third-largest insurer by market share, won the leasehold auction to redevelop the Taipei World Trade Center’s Hall 2 for NT$26.8 billion (US$893.33 million), outbidding Cathay Life Insurance Co (國泰人壽).

Ten days earlier, Continental Engineering Corp (大陸工程) bought an undeveloped plot of land nearby for a record NT$4.4 billion.

“While the overall sentiment remains weak, prices for properties in prime locations continue to hit new highs,” Chen said.

The existing home market in Taipei City also turned out stronger last month, according to official data released on Wednesday.

Second-hand home transactions totaled 4,215 units, rising 14 percent from 3,684 units sold one month earlier, Taipei City Government statistics showed, bucking double-digit declines reported by major brokers days earlier.

Nangang District (南港) showed the sharpest monthly increase of 93 percent among the Taipei City’s 12 administrative districts last month, with 305 units bought and sold.

That was followed by Daan District’s (大安) 48 percent increase, with 526 units sold, and Shihlin District’s (士林) 46 percent increase, with 368 units sold, the statistics showed.

Local property brokers attributed the growth to higher settlement of pre-sale home cases and the implementation of the new registration rules.
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Old August 12th, 2012, 05:38 PM   #244
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Updated Sunday, August 12, 2012 0:09 am TWN
The China Post
Taipei riverside bikeways reopened to bikers

Except for a small section of about 2 kilometers, all riverside bikeways affected by Typhoon Saola and flooding in Taipei will be reopened to cyclists beginning today.

Taipei City Government officials said that repair work for all sections of riverside bikeways was completed yesterday.

But the short section in front of Shih Hsin University, stretching between Jingmei Bridge and Wanshan Bridge in Wenshan District, will remain closed for approximately one more week due to the extensive damage caused by the typhoon and flooding.

According to local reports, the aforementioned section sustained more damage than others because it is located comparatively lower along the Jingmei River. Large volumes of driftwood and other objects also caused additional damage to the 2-kilometer stretch of bikeway which is presently covered in mud.

According to officials, repair work for the damaged section is expected to be completed by Aug. 16.
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Old August 16th, 2012, 05:48 PM   #245
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Thu, Aug 16, 2012
Shida vendors allege development scheme
Taipei Times

Vendors and landlords in Taipei’s Shida area hold a banner protesting against what they say are local residents acting in collusion with an urban renewal developer to try to force them out of the area.
Photo: Weng Yu-huang, Taipei Times

As disputes over restaurants and entertainment establishments in Taipei’s Shida area continues, a group of vendors yesterday accused people protesting against businesses in the area of collaborating with construction companies and seeking to expel local businesses for redevelopment.

Hanging large yellow banners in front of restaurants or on building walls that read: “Legal operation runs against phony neighbors and real persecution” and “Stop urban renewal from destroying our homes,” local vendors said protests against local businesses in the neighborhood were initiated by construction companies and local residents taking part in urban renewal projects.

“Everyone in the area knows that there have been at least four construction firms planning urban renewal projects in the neighborhood … They are forcing us to leave, so that they can proceed with the projects,” an Indian restaurant owner surnamed Lee (李) said.

Owner of local bar-restaurant Roxy Jr Cafe Ling Wei (凌威) said the Shidahood Association (師大三里里民自救會), a group formed by local residents in November last year to protest against businesses in the area, has refused to communicate with local businesses and adopted vicious measures to force shops and restaurants out of the area.

“As legal businesses in the neighborhood, we are supportive of plans to improve the living environment in the Shida area, but the group did not want any businesses here, leaving us with no option but to fight back,” he said.

While local vendors put up yellow banners to defend their legal operations, opponents of businesses in the area have continued to protest against what they called illegal operations with banners that read: “Local residents reject noise and air pollution.”

Shidahood Association chairman Jerry Liu (劉振偉) shrugged off the latest protest from local vendors and said the group did not target any specific businesses.

“All we want is a clean and quiet community with great living quality, and we did not adopt any vicious measures against local vendors. If they abided by local regulations and produced no noise or odors, the Taipei City Government would not be able to give them fines and expel them from the area,” he said.

Taipei City’s Urban Redevelopment Office yesterday said there was only one application for urban renewal in the Shida area, between Yunho Street and Shida Road, and the office has not approved the project yet, urging local residents and business owners to solve the disputes via rational discussion.

Disputes over the night market began after Taipei Mayor Hau Lung-bin (郝龍斌) announced in November last year that no further expansion of the market would be permitted, in response to growing complaints about trash and noise caused by vendors and visitors.
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Old August 18th, 2012, 10:48 AM   #246
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Sat, Aug 18, 2012
Taipei Times
Delay in EIA as Beitou residents protest cable car plans

The environmental impact assessment (EIA) review for the Beitou Cable Car construction plan was delayed following a three-hour meeting yesterday, as several dozen environmental activists and local residents voiced opposition to the construction because it would affect local traffic and the overall environment in the area.

Taipei City’s Environmental Impact Assessment Review Committee failed to finish the review process of the project amid strong opposition from local residents and environmentalists, who lashed out at the contractor, Richforest Co for failing to address their concerns in the EIA.

Residents expressed concerns that the cable car system will repeat the mistakes of the Maokong Gondola and become a liability in Beitou District (北投).

“The cable car system will be built on fragile ground. We are against the project for public safety reasons. Also, nobody would use the cable car as a transportation option to Yangmingshan,” said Dai Show-fen (戴秀芬), director of the Peitou Association.

Beitou resident Chang Shao-yen (張紹琰) said the contractor’s estimation that the gondola will attract 22,000 visitors per day means it would make traffic congestion in the area worse.

Chang asked the contractor to include disaster management measures in its project plan.

“Cities around the world are building cable cars to promote tourism, but nobody builds cable cars in residential areas. The contractor and investors will make money from the project, but it is local residents who are facing safety threats from the system,” he said.

The developer’s representative, Lee Chung-ho (李中和), dismissed residents’ concerns and insisted the cable car project will incorporate the rich history of Beitou and boost tourism once it is completed.

The Beitou Cable Car project is the second cable car project in Taipei after the Maokong Gondola. The proposed 4.9km cable car line is designed with four stops to run between Xinbeitou MRT Station and Yangmingshan National Park.

The budget for the build-operation-transfer (BOT) project is about NT$3.3 billion (US$102 million).

The construction license for the project was revoked in 2005 after then-vice minister of the interior Yen Wan-ching (顏萬進) and Tsai Bai-lu (蔡佰祿), then-director of Yangmingshan National Park, were charged with taking kickbacks from a developer who sought to get a construction license for the project.

Yen was sentenced to 15 years imprisonment after being found guilty on corruption charges in four separate cases, including his acceptance of bribes from the developer, while Tsai was sentenced to 30 months imprisonment for his involvement in the bribery scandal.

While local residents continued to voice concerns about the project, city government officials reinstated the EIA process yesterday, hoping to resume the BOT project.

Taipei City’s Department of Environmental Protection commissioner Wu Sheng-chong (吳聖忠) said the department would again in the future gather committee members to complete the review process.
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Old August 19th, 2012, 04:57 PM   #247
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Fri, Aug 17, 2012
Ministry mulls lifting ban on state-owned land sales
Taipei Times

The Ministry of Finance is considering lifting a ban on sales of small state-owned plots of land in Taipei and New Taipei City (新北市), as the government aims to maintain a sufficient supply of land to ease unreasonably high real-estate prices and fill the state’s coffers.

The Chinese-language Economic Daily News reported yesterday that Minister of Finance Chang Sheng-ford (張盛和) has asked the National Property Administration to review the pros and cons of lifting the sales ban on plots of land measuring less than 500 ping (1,653m2).

The ministry has banned the sale of such lands since March 2010 amid growing concerns that the sales could aggravate rampant property speculation in the Greater Taipei area and cause price gouging among construction firms.

In December last year, the legislature amended an act that expanded the sales ban to cover plots of land larger than 500 ping.

However, Chang said the government’s ban may also be a factor behind house prices in Taipei and New Taipei City remaining at a high level, because the supply of state-owned land failed to meet strong demand.

Lifting the ban would also help the government raise more funds, he said.

“We are collecting data and opinions,” a section chief at the administration surnamed Wang (王) said yesterday.

Wang refused to say when the administration would finish the evaluation, but he did confirm that the administration would continue to auction long-term leases for plots of land.

Chang Chin-oh (張金鶚), a land economics professor at National Chengchi University, said the ministry should not lift the ban, because house prices remain high and lifting the ban would only increase speculation.

“The finance minister’s views are inappropriate,” Chang Chin-oh said by telephone yesterday.

Chang Chin-oh said the excessive number of auctions of state-owned land — which could drive up property speculation — remained the major concern should the ministry lift the ban.

Meanwhile, lifting the ban would not significantly boost the nation’s finances, he added.

Construction firms said lifting the ban would put the balance between supply and demand in the housing market back on track, the Chinese-language United Evening News reported yesterday.

Tsai Chung-i (蔡宗易), vice president of Farglory Group (遠雄集團), owner of Farglory Land, said the lack of a supply of land had indeed been driving up real-estate prices.
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Old August 20th, 2012, 02:47 PM   #248
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Mon, Aug 20, 2012
MND wary of buildings planned in Chihai Park
Taipei Times with CNA


Late president Chiang Ching-kuo’s residence in Chihai Cultural Park in Taipei is seen on Saturday.
Photo: Chen Ching-min, Taipei Times


All applications to build hotels in the Chihai Cultural Park area are in violation of a deal that the Taipei City Government made with the Ministry of National Defense (MND) in 2008 and would be subjected to close examination, the ministry said yesterday.

The ministry said it had ceded to the Taipei City Government the land on which the Republic of China Navy’s Dazhi Camp had stood to be used to build Chihai Cultural Park. The former residence of late president Chiang Ching-kuo (蔣經國) was to remain at the center of the park.

In 2006, the residence was declared a heritage site by the city government.

The east end of the park would be close to Navy Command Headquarters, its west end would be close to the National Security Bureau and its south end would connect to Beian Road. The park would include the Chihai residence, Chihai lake and a parking area, and would occupy roughly 39,782m2. It would be operated by ministry-approved companies for 50 years.

However, local media yesterday reported that the city government was reviewing operate-transfer (OT) and build-operate-transfer (BOT) projects for the park, with one of the two applicants requesting permission to build a hotel on park grounds.

The OT and BOT models would allow private companies to operate buildings or sites in the park for a number of years after the government builds it. After the contracted period ends, the site or building would be returned to the government.

The Taipei City Government’s Department of Finance said that both projects were acceptable because they adhered to the prerequisites that the government would not subsidize, fund or segment ownership of the land.

The department said it wanted companies to preserve the heritage sites, adding that in the future, the Chingkuo Chihai Cultural Park would include a library dedicated to the former president and would become a tourist hotspot.

To preserve the park’s landscape, a 15m height limit for buildings in the area would be imposed and no buildings would be allowed to be more than three stories high, the department said.

In response to the media reports, the ministry yesterday said that when the Taipei City Government approached it in 2008, the plans had only included the construction of a library dedicated to the former president on the park grounds.

The land was ceded to the city with the understanding that no construction on the site would impact national security, the ministry said.

The government’s BOT model includes civilian investments and a hotel on park grounds, the ministry said, adding that these plans were not included in the deal struck between the ministry and the city government.

Ministry officials said they would study all proposals very carefully.

The ministry said it would cooperate with the city government to “preserve natural heritage, benefit the public and protect national security.”
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Old August 25th, 2012, 04:11 PM   #249
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Fri, Aug 24, 2012
Taipei Times
Academics knock city development
BUILDING BLOCKS:Several academics have criticized the government’s ‘careless development’ of urban areas, labeling its performance as ‘out of control’

Officials said yesterday at a forum that more creativity and a new mindset would have to be introduced in all plans for urban development in the future as academics expressed disappointment over the government’s performance in this area during the past decade.

“New legislation, ideas and approaches are required for metropolises such as Taipei City and the New Taipei City to improve their urban environment,” said Hung Chia-hung (洪嘉宏), director-general of the Construction and Planning Agency’s Urban and Rural Development Branch.

Hung was among a group of officials and academics in the Taipei Next Forum, organized by Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) Legislator Pasuya Yao (姚文智), which focused on urban development, in particular on issues of social housing, urban regeneration and the proposed development of a waterfront, in the greater Taipei area.

With housing prices in Taiwan skyrocketing, social housing has been mentioned by experts as a way to ease housing demand for the young and the poor, but Taiwan’s government has always distributed social apartments through selling, rather than leasing.

“Perhaps it’s time for us to introduce the concept of superficies by allowing residents to live in apartments without owning them, so they would not have to endure the high housing price,” Hung said.

Volunteer participation in urban regeneration projects could be tax deductible and legislation should be relaxed to allow changes in the use of land to bring in industries and rejuvenate certain areas, he added.

Ting Yu-chun (丁育群), Commissioner of Taipei City’s Department of Urban Development, said the city government has learned lessons in a number of urban regeneration projects which had stirred up controversies and public anger this year.

Taipei City plans to build 45,000 social apartments, around 5 percent of the total of 970,000 households in the city, in 25 years for people in need, he said.

Huang Jui-mao (黃瑞茂), a professor of Architecture at Tamkang University, described the government’s performance on urban development in the past decade as “out of control.”

Development projects have become politicians’ blank checks in election campaigns, he said, adding that the underprivileged people and urban reservations were among the issues that the government had totally ignored in Tamsui (淡水), a town of 100,000 residents in New Taipei City (新北市), has been the perfect example of how things went wrong in Taiwan’s urban planning, Huang said.

The town was “overloaded” with careless development of its waterfront and its culturally rich urban texture, he said.
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Old August 27th, 2012, 05:45 PM   #250
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Fri, Aug 24, 2012
Cathay Life buys floors in central Taipei
Taipei Times

The Mass Mutual Mercuries Life Insurance building in Taipei, in which Cathay Life bought 10 floors for just under NT$7.3 billion yesterday.
Photo: Hsu Yi-ping, Taipei Times

Cathay Life Insurance Co (國泰人壽) yesterday won the auction of several floors in an office building in central Taipei with a generous offer that flouts new restrictions imposed by financial regulators to rein in wild property investments among domestic insurers.

The life insurer, Taiwan’s largest by market share and the flagship unit of Cathay Financial Holding Co (國泰金控), offered NT$72.6 billion (US$242.19 million), or 23.4 percent more than the floor price, for six floors aboveground and another four below in a 12-story building on Xinyi Road Sec 4, bidding organizer Savills Taiwan Ltd (第一太平戴維斯) said.

The offer beat the highest market expectations of NT$7 billion after the Financial Supervisory Commission (FSC) on Tuesday raised minimum returns on real-estate investments by life insurers from 1.875 percent to 2.125 percent, both to boost their profitability and curb property price hikes.

The auction outcome translates into NT$1.34 million per ping for 6,054 ping (20,013m2) of space that is fully leased to a financial institution, bidding data showed.

Cathay Life executive vice president Lin Chao-ting (林昭廷) said his company failed to meet the new yield requirements with the bidding offer.

“We will give an account to the FSC tomorrow [today] about the property acquisition,” Lin said.

Cathay Life believes that property values and rental rates for office spaces in the building and the district as a whole will go up once construction on the MRT’s Xinyi Line is completed, Lin said. The extension work is due to be completed within two years.

“We intend to raise rental rates after present leases expire in two to three years,” he said.

The “quick return” clause that requires property investments to generate profits two years within purchase allows a two-year grace period for Cathay Life to meet the new rules, Lin said.

Cathay Life plans to buy more commercial property nationwide as real-estate properties, including the latest one, make up 5 percent of its overall portfolio, Lin said.

The office space, jointly owned by Mercuries Life Insurance Co (三商美邦人壽保險) and Horizon Securities (宏遠證券), will bring in hefty gains for both firms.

Michael Wong (王維宏), an account manager at the asset division of Sinyi Realty Inc (信義房屋), said demand for commercial property remains solid, as evidenced by the sharp competition for the office building.

The auction drew four bids, with more than 10 potential buyers, including major domestic life insurers, showing interest, Savills Taiwan said.
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Old August 27th, 2012, 08:26 PM   #251
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Updated Sunday, August 26, 2012 0:01 am TWN
China Post
Dongmen Station passes initial survey

The China Post news staff--The Taipei City Government conducted an initial survey at the newly constructed Dongmen (東門) Station last night, requesting the rapid transit company to amend three errors before reporting to the Ministry of Transportation and Communications (MOTC) for further re-examinations.

According to Mass Rapid Transit System Re-examination Guidelines, the metropolitan rapid transit agency must confirm that requirements for the scheduled route have all been satisfied before applying to authorities for an initial survey.

Administered by Dean of National Chiao Tung University College of Management Chang Hsin-li (張新立) and with the support of construction, engineering and operation groups, the initial survey was conducted through file previews, spot inspections, tests and simulations.

Overall, there are three, four and 12 problematic areas requiring attention before, during and after re-examination. After seeing to the three initial items, Taipei Metro is required to ask for committee ratification before reporting to the MOTC for re-examination.
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Old August 28th, 2012, 04:32 PM   #252
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Updated Tuesday, August 28, 2012 11:44 am TWN
The China Post
Price-to-income ratio for Taipei houses at nearly 14 years in Q2

Average workers seeking to get a house in Taipei City need to go without food and water for 13.7 years, according to the latest real estate survey released by the Construction and Planning Agency (CPA) yesterday.

The poll found price-to-income ratios of Taipei and New Taipei City stood at 13.7 times and 9 times, respectively, during the second quarter. A number of 13.7 means people have to go without food or water for 13.7 years before they can purchase a house.

Mortgage burden rates for Taipei and New Taipei stood at 46 and 38 percent, respectively.

The figures were given during a press conference yesterday, presided over by Chang Chin-er, land administration professor with National Chengchi University.

The survey also found Taiwan home sales and prices both increased in the second quarter on a quarter-on-quarter basis.

According to the poll, total home sales in Taiwan in the second quarter hit 53,502, a rise of 48 percent from the first three months yet a decline of four percent on a year-on-year basis.

As for the average home price in Taiwan, it reached NT$9.228 million, or a unit price of NT$224,000 a ping (3.3 square meters), a rise of 10 percent from the first quarter and the highest since the third quarter last year.

In terms of the outlook for the housing market over the next 12 months, most expect a slight price increase. Most expressed the view that prices in Tainan City and Kaohsiung City would grow by a bigger margin than the rest of the island.

As for Taipei City, its home price trend index declined. As for whether the decline would lead to a cross-the-board price fall, the situation remains to be seen.
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Old August 29th, 2012, 08:26 PM   #253
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Sands China sees pick up in Macau, says no ‘illegal activities’
28/08/2012 08:20:00 Vinicy Chan
Macau Daily Times

Sands China Ltd., the Asian unit of Sheldon Adelson’s U.S. casino operator, expects growth to pick up next year in Macau and said it has followed regulations in its home territory and Las Vegas. More hotel rooms and transportation to Macau will aid growth in the world’s largest gambling hub next year, Sands China’s chief executive officer Edward Tracy said in an interview in Hong Kong yesterday.

The company, which is being investigated by the Macau government in connection with data transfers to the U.S., doesn’t engage in any “crimes or any illegal activities,” he said. Sands China is facing weaker growth this year as China’s economy slows and high- stake gamblers cut spending. The company and its U.S. parent Las Vegas Sands Corp. are also under greater scrutiny amid the Macau investigation and probes by U.S. regulators. “We not only abided by the rules in Macau, we also abided by the rules in Las Vegas,” Tracy said, while declining to comment on specific investigations.

The company’s Venetian Macau Ltd. subsidiary is being investigated by the Macau government in connection with the transfer of data to the U.S. Steven Jacobs, the former Sands China chief executive officer who is suing the company, has in filings said that a large amount of evidence in his case has been transported from Macau to the U.S.

The company is “cautiously optimistic” about revenue growth this year, Tracy said. Macau’s gambling revenue rose 1.5 percent to 24.6 billion patacas (USD3.08 billion) in July, the slowest pace since June 2009, on easing demand and the effects of a typhoon. The casino operator expects to add about 200 more gambling tables next year, when growth is likely to pick up. “Macau will have new supply, new hotel rooms, and new facilities,” Tracy said. “It will keep growing.”

The casino operator is interested in building a resort in Taipei that would be the size of its Venetian Macau gambling center, if it can get government permission, he said. Casinos aren’t allowed in Taiwan, only on offshore islands. Taiwan legalized casinos on its outlying islands in January 2009, allowing Kinmen, Matsu and Penghu to open casinos pending referendum approval. “We like the demographics in Taipei, we think there’s enough population to support an integrated resort,” Tracy said. “We’re not looking at any outlying islands.” Sands would also be interested in expanding to Vietnam, Japan and South Korea if it can get government permissions to set up casinos in those countries, Tracy said.

The Macau government’s Office For Personal Data Protection confirmed via e-mail this month that it has started an investigation into whether the Venetian Macau breached local rules. Jacobs’ filings have said that among missing documents are e-mails outlining Sands’s strategy of allowing prostitutes in casinos and its hiring of a casino attorney who also represents the Macau government. Las Vegas Sands responded in a July filing that Jacobs’s claims regarding it having a “prostitution strategy” were reckless, irrelevant and false.

Las Vegas Sands in 2011 received a subpoena from the Securities and Exchange Commission requesting the company produce documents relating to its compliance with the Foreign Corrupt Practices Act. The company has said the Department of Justice was conducting a similar investigation. The subpoena may also have emanated from allegations contained in the Jacobs lawsuit, Las Vegas Sands has said in corporate filings.
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Old August 31st, 2012, 05:51 PM   #254
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Fri, Aug 31, 2012
Losheng protesters urge relocation of MRT depot
INACTION:Protesters accused the administration of not heeding a Control Yuan conclusion that the selected site and the construction measures used were not suitable
Taipei Times

Losheng Sanatorium preservationists and residents yesterday urged the government to respond to a corrective measure proposed by the Control Yuan and find another site for the MRT maintenance depot now under construction on the sanatorium’s campus.

“Defend justice for Losheng, resettle the Sinjhuang maintenance depot,” they chanted as they demonstrated outside the Executive Yuan.

“The conclusion that the Control Yuan came up with after an investigation supports what preservationists and Losheng residents have been saying all these years,” said Wang Wei-min (王偉民), a civil engineer and long-time supporter of the Losheng preservation movement.

Wang has long warned that the hill on which Losheng Sanatorium is located is not suitable for construction of an MRT maintenance depot.

“As the Control Yuan investigation found that both the site selected and the construction method being used are wrong, the Department of Rapid Transit Systems [DORTS] should stop it right away,” Wang said. “Otherwise, no one knows if there will be another chance for it to amend the situation when more serious problems occur.”

Losheng Sanatorium was completed in the 1930s on a hill in Sinjhuang District (新莊), New Taipei City (新北市), to isolate people with leprosy, since it was believed to be a contagious and incurable disease at the time.

A DORTS project to flatten the sanatorium campus to make way for an MRT maintenance depot met with strong opposition. Some opposed the construction because they believed the sanatorium should be kept as an historic site, while others said the geological conditions of the hill are not suitable for such a large construction project.

Despite the opposition, the Executive Yuan’s Public Construction Commission decided in May 2008 to preserve only a part of the sanatorium complex, while demolishing most of it.

As landslides occurred as construction went on, the DORTS was forced to suspend work and promised that construction would not resume until a more stable, long-term construction method was found.

However, landslides continued even when construction stopped and cracks have appeared on the walls of the remaining buildings.

Earlier this month, the Control Yuan concluded its investigation by proposing corrective measures and said the selection of the project site and the construction measures were both wrong.

Although the Control Yuan Act (監察法) requires the executive branch of government to respond to a corrective measure proposal by making changes and submitting a written report to the Control Yuan, the executive branch has yet to do so. The DORTS only thanked the Control Yuan for its concerns and said it would complete the project as planned.

“The DORTS and the Taipei City Government should come up with another plan to correct its mistakes before it’s too late,” said Tsai Ya-ying (蔡雅瀅), a lawyer affiliated with the Wild at Heart Legal Defense Association. “Otherwise, it would be a disaster if a large-scale landslide occurs when the maintenance depot is completed and the MRT line starts operating.
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Old September 2nd, 2012, 04:11 PM   #255
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Fri, Aug 31, 2012
Completion date of Airport Rail moved to October 2013
Taipei Times

The date for completion of the Airport Rail project between Sanchong (三重) and Jhongli (中壢) has been postponed until October next year due to a delay in the construction of a depot, the Bureau of High Speed Rail said yesterday.

Bureau Director-General Chu Shu (朱旭) said the contractor building the system’s Lujhu Depot must change the design of the facility after a review by the zoning committee.

The contractor must also fulfill a commitment it made to the Environmental Protection Administration’s environmental impact committee by refilling the excess soil dug out during the building of the airport rail at the construction site of the Lujhu Depot, Chu said.

The construction of the depot cannot begin until the contractor has thoroughly fulfilled its commitment, he said.

“The bureau has strictly reviewed the causes of delay that cannot be attributed to the contractor and has agreed that the contractor may complete the construction of the Sanchong-Jhongli section by October next year,” Chu said, adding that the bureau has established a special task force to supervise the contractor.

The construction of the 53km railway line, which will connect Taipei Railway Station and Taiwan Taoyuan International Airport, began in 2006. The section between Taipei Railway Station and Sanchong is scheduled to be completed by August 2014.

As of last month, 81 percent of the Airport Rail project had been completed.

In other news, the National Freeway Bureau said yesterday the speed limit on Freeway No. 6 will be raised to 100kph starting tomorrow, but that drivers of cargo trucks weighing more than 20 tonnes must still observe the speed limit of 90kph.

The freeway, which connects Greater Taichung’s Wufong (霧峰) and Puli (埔里), is 37.6km long. It was opened for traffic in March 2009. The bureau said it initially set the speed limit at 90kph on the freeway because motorists might need some time to familiarize themselves with the routes leading to the freeway.

After re-evaluating the traffic situation on the freeway, it decided that the speed limit could be raised to its designed capacity of 100kph, the bureau said.
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Old September 6th, 2012, 06:28 AM   #256
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Mon, Sep 03, 2012
Taipei Times
Cycle camp grounds set up on former landfill site
RUBBISH PIT STOP:The new facility, set up in Bali District, aims to allow weary cyclists to re-charge their batteries and caters to growing numbers of round-island cyclists



Tents are seen at the camping grounds which have been set up on the site of an old rubbish dump landfill facility in New Taipei City’s Bali District on Wednesday. Cyclists can spend the night for free at the site.
Photo: Tsai Pai-ling, Taipei Times

New Taipei City’s (新北市) Bali District (八里) has recently converted what was originally a landfill site into a park complete with an area where cyclists can camp overnight.

According to Lin Sung-chin (林松槿), the manager of the original landfill rubbish dump, the park decided to set up a bicycle resting stop because many cyclists had said that it was difficult to find places to stay in the area.

Located between Linkou district (林口) and Bali, the original landfill site faces onto Provincial Highway No. 61, also known as the West Coast Expressway, and there are no lodgings or restaurant amenities located nearby, Lin said.

To address cyclists’ needs, the park area set up a bicycle rest area so that cyclists can access tires-inflation facilities, water supplies and to re-charge — both electronically and biologically, Lin said.

Four wooden platforms have been erected on the lawns that now cover the site of the original landfill, with each being able to accommodate up to six to eight people, Lin said, adding that the platforms also included facilities for green-power re-charging.

Cyclists will need to bring tents with them, Lin said, adding that if the campers were lucky, they might awake see some sheep grazing nearby as well.

With more people opting to go on round-island bicycle tours — including many Taiwanese and foreign cyclists — the park decided it made sense to provide the camping area for cyclists.

The camping grounds are for cyclists only and reservations can be made via the park’s Facebook page, Lin said.

Lin said that he hoped more people would use their zero-emitting bicycles now that the camping area has been set up, adding that this summer nearly 40 people had opted to camp there.

The landfill area is no longer a dirty, smelly pit full of garbage, but has now become a park with a rich ecology suitable for family trips, Lin said.
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Old September 7th, 2012, 04:02 PM   #257
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Fri, Sep 07, 2012
DPP queries use of Taipei Dome
SIDE-LINED:According to DPP city councilors, the dome was designed to be a multifunctional venue and should be used for both ceremonies and sports
By Mo Yan-chih / Staff reporter


Work continues yesterday at the Taipei Dome construction site in downtown Taipei. The dome will be used for the opening ceremony of the 2017 Summer Universiade, but is not listed as a competition site for the Games.
Photo: Liu Jung, Taipei Times


Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) Taipei City councilors yesterday accused the Taipei City Government of having no intention to use the Taipei Dome for competitions during the 2017 Summer Universiade, questioning the purpose of the Taipei Dome construction project, which was designed as a indoor baseball stadium to promote baseball and other sports.

The Taipei Dome project, a 500,000m2 commercial complex in downtown Xinyi District (信義) that would include a 40,000-seat indoor stadium, was expected to be a major venue for the Summer Universiade in 2017.

However, the dome was not included on the competition venue list, and Taipei City’s Department of Sports plans to use the dome for opening and closing ceremonies instead.

DPP Taipei City Councilor Lee Ching-feng (李慶鋒) and Taiwan Solidarity Union Taipei City Councilor Chen Chien-ming (陳建銘) yesterday questioned the city government’s plan, urging the department to use the dome for sports events.

“Taipei Dome is built to become one of the nation’s biggest baseball stadiums, and it is ridiculous that it will not be the venue for baseball competitions in the Summer Universiade. What would Taipei Dome be used for if it cannot serve as a venue for international baseball games?” Lee said at a press conference at the Taipei City Council.

Citing the example of the recent Olympics Games and previous Summer Universiades, Chen said venues for opening and closing ceremonies in international sports events have also been used to hold competitions, while questioning the preparation of the international sports event.

“The Fukuoka Dome was used to hold baseball competitions during the Universiade in 1995 in addition to the opening and closing ceremonies. The city government’s promise in building the Taipei Dome as a professional stadium would not be very persuasive if it cannot be used as a multifunctional venue,” he said.

The Taipei Dome project began construction last year after long-term protests against the project amid concerns on its environmental impact.

Farglory Group, the developer, signed a contract with the city government in 2005 and planned to invest more than NT$23 billion (US$700 million) in the complex at the abandoned Songshan Tobacco Factory on Zhongxiao E Road, and promised to build a professional indoor baseball stadium with at least 40,000 seats.

Deputy commissioner of the department Ding Ruo-ting (丁若亭) said the department has not yet made a decision on the venue for baseball competitions and opening and closing ceremonies, and the preparatory committee will make a final decision after discussing the issues with the International University Sports Federation.

“The Taipei Dome could definitely be used to hold baseball competitions, and we did not finalize the arrangements on venues for competitions yet,” he said.
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Old September 14th, 2012, 05:15 AM   #258
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Updated Monday, September 10, 2012 0:09 am TWN
China Post
Relocated Taiwan Pavilion readies to open in Hsinchu

The Hsinchu City Government is moving closer to completing reconstruction work on the Taiwan Pavilion, which received millions of visitors at the Shanghai World Expo.

Municipal government officials have appointed well-known singer Wei Li-an (also known as William Wei) as one of the ambassadors of the city's new landmark.

The government has not yet made a formal announcement on the exact opening date of the relocated pavilion, but they stressed that “it's drawing closer.”

The city held a special ceremony to introduce Wei as the spokesman for the project. Wei, who has won a Golden Melody Award as best new artist and received nominations for many other awards, debuted a new song he wrote for the Taiwan Pavilion at the event.

Chang Yi-jun, a native Hsinchu resident and the only Taiwanese performing member of the world-famous Cirque du Soleil, gave a performance of his dancing skills at the ceremony.

Hsinchu City beat out other bidders to purchase the Taiwan Pavilion at the Shanghai World Expo, with a plan to reconstruct the popular pavilion as a new landmark in the city to help attract more tourists and elevate the global status of the city.
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Old September 17th, 2012, 11:00 AM   #259
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Sat, Sep 15, 2012
Government asked to resolve Shilin deadlock
Taipei Times

Supporters and opponents of a controversial urban renewal project in Taipei yesterday called for government intervention to resolve the deadlock, while opponents accused the police of favoring the construction firm.

“This is a lose-lose situation for everyone — the Wangs (王), the residents who agreed to the [Wenlin Yuan renewal project], Le Young Construction Co, the construction workers and the police,” Democratic Progressive Party Legislator Yu Mei-nu (尤美女) said at a press conference. “You [the Taipei City Government] have started all of this, you cannot just stand aside and do nothing when the two groups are in a standoff.”

The Wenlin Yuan urban renewal project was initiated by Le Young to demolish decades-old apartment buildings in Shilin District (士林), Taipei, to build a high-rise luxury apartment complex.

While the majority of residents, accounting for 36 households, agreed to take part in the project, the Wang family, which owns two townhouses, refused to give up their properties, and asked to be excluded from the urban renewal project.

However, since the Urban Renewal Act (都市更新條例) permits a project to go ahead if more than three-quarters of property owners agree to it, the Wangs’ houses were flattened by a demolition squad sent by the city government in March.

After the demolition, opponents of the project who support the Wangs’ decision to defend their properties stalled the construction and engaged in several clashes with Le Young construction workers. Meanwhile, members of the 36 households are upset that they could not move into their new apartments as scheduled.

“We have agreed to take part in the project, and followed the law, so why is a legally approved project stalled?” said Hsieh Chun-chiao (謝春嬌), one of the residents who agreed to the project. “We’ve been renting a temporary residence. We want to go home as soon as possible, and the government should help to defend our rights.”

Huang Hui-yu (黃慧瑜) of the Coalition of Taiwan Urban Renewal Victims agreed with Hsieh on urging government intervention.

“The 36 households want to go home, as do the Wangs. It’s time for the government to stand up and help to resolve the deadlock,” she said.

Huang also accused the government of favoring the construction firm when conflicts occurred between opponents of the project and construction workers.

In a video clip, an officer was seen insisting on removing a student from the project site who was showing his support for the Wangs.

When the student asked on what legal basis he was being removed, the officer said: “I am the law,” and asked construction workers nearby if they wanted to file a lawsuit against the student, telling the workers: “If you want to sue him, I can take him away immediately.”

In response, a Construction and Planning Agency representative said it was the local government’s responsibility to deal with the issue and that the agency would not intervene unless the city government asked for help.

The Taipei City Urban Redevelopment Office said it has “tried to negotiate between the two sides” and would “look further into the proposal to create a special task force.”
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Old September 18th, 2012, 06:15 PM   #260
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Sun, Sep 16, 2012
Land activists protest at Taipei award show
CULTURE CLASH:Small groups seized their chance at the Taipei Culture Award to call for justice in urban renewal projects such as the now infamous Wenlin Yuan
Taipei Times

Small-scale protests against the Taipei City Government’s handling of urban renewal projects marred the award ceremony of the Taipei Culture Award yesterday, with protesters urging the city government to pay more attention to housing justice in dealing with controversial cases such as the preservation of the Losheng Sanatorium and the urban renewal project in Shihlin District (士林).

Taipei City’s Department of Cultural Affairs yesterday presented the Taipei Culture Award to urban planning activist John Liu (劉可強) and film director Doze Niu (鈕承澤) for their contributions to the preservation of Taipei’s traditions and promotion of the city’s culture through innovative measures.

Liu, an urban planning professor at National Taiwan University, is the mastermind behind reconstruction projects for some of the city’s historical buildings and sites, including Treasure Hill Village (寶藏巖) and Wistaria House (紫藤廬). He also leads an urban design foundation and takes part in various urban reform projects that include the controversial Losheng Sanatorium case.

The other recipient, Niu, is a well-known actor and director in Taiwan who gained fame with his two box office hits: Monga (艋舺) and Love (愛).

Describing Liu and Niu as “practitioners of cultural movements in Taipei,” Taipei Mayor Hau Lung-bin (郝龍斌) praised Liu for transforming Taipei’s landscape through urban reform, while lauding Niu for documenting the city’s charm and raising its international profile with his popular movies.

However, the award ceremony was interrupted several times by protesters, with various activists of the Losheng Sanatorium preservation movement waving banners and shouting “Save Losheng Sanatorium” and “Don’t be a culture murderer” while Hau gave his speech in the reception at Taipei Zhongshan Hall.

“The Control Yuan’s investigation has confirmed that the sanatorium site is not a suitable site on which to build an MRT maintenance depot. As Mayor Hau said, it is crucial to preserve a city’s history and culture, and so we come here today to urge him to save the historical Losheng Sanatiroum,” said one of the protesters, surnamed Wu (巫), after police escorted the activists from the ceremony.

Losheng Sanatorium was completed in the 1930s on a hill in Sinjhuang District (新莊), New Taipei City (新北市), to isolate people with leprosy, since it was believed to be a contagious and incurable disease at the time.

Before the ceremony began, three advocates for the stalled urban renewal project in Shihlin District, known as Wenlin Yuan (文林苑) project, also launched a small protest outside the ceremony, shouting “save Wenlin Yuan” as Hau entered the building.

The urban renewal project is stalled due to opposition from the Wang (王) family, whose houses were torn down by the city government this year to facilitate the approved project. The family and their supporters have been occupying the construction site and refuse to leave.

Even the band Kao Chiu Ching (拷秋勤), who were invited to perform at the ceremony independent of the protests, called on the city government during their performance “not to sacrifice housing justice over any urban renewal project.”

Liu, in his award acceptance speech, also urged the city government to address the controversial urban renewal projects.

“The city government must take a stance on urban renewal and exercise its authority to resolve the disputes while bearing social justice in mind ... I want to encourage Mayor Hau to take a more positive, active role in handling the issues,” he said.

Meawhile, Democratic Progressive Party Taipei City Councilor Tung Chung-yen (童仲彥) yesterday challenged the city government’s decision to honor Niu for what he described a stereotypical portrait of the old Wanhua District (萬華) in his film Monga, a movie about a group of gangsters from the area.

Department commissioner Liu Wei-kun (劉維公) dismissed Tung’s criticism and said Niu was awarded for his innovation in promoting Taipei and representing life in Taipei, and said the award was not given to him based solely on Monga.
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