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Old April 25th, 2011, 10:01 PM   #141
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Report shows which cities to be most hit by luxury tax
Taipei times Staff Writer, with CNA
Sun, Apr 24, 2011

Home prices in Taipei City, New Taipei City (新北市) and Greater Taichung are expected to be more affected than other areas in the country before a new luxury tax takes effect in June, according to a report released by a real-estate agency yesterday.

The three cities have been preferred by investors when buying residential real estate and they are now scrambling to sell properties in those areas to avoid paying the tax, the report by Pacific Rehouse Co said.

The sudden increase in supply is expected to drag down home prices in the cities before June 1, when the market generally expects the luxury tax to be implemented.

The 10 to 15 percent tax, passed by the Legislative Yuan on April 15, would be imposed on sales of homes not lived in by their owners within one to two years of their purchase.

Since the bill passed, the -housing market has favored buyers, leaving a small window in which those looking for their own home could get a favorable deal, the real estate agency said.

New home construction figures from the Ministry of the Interior indicate why the imminent implementation of the luxury tax could be most felt in New Taipei City, Taipei City and Greater Taichung, Pacific Rehouse said.

New Taipei City had the most applicants for new home -construction with 33,187 units from July 2009 to February this year.

During the same period, Greater Taichung came in second with 18,136 units, followed by Taipei City with 14,181 units, Greater Kaohsiung with 11,716 units and Taoyuan County with 10,827 units.

Government officials have argued that the tax will rein in speculative home buying by investors hoping to cash in on steady rises in housing prices by quickly turning over properties.
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Old April 27th, 2011, 07:09 AM   #142
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Construction halts at historic sugar factory for repairs
By Mo Yan-chih / Staff Reporter
Wed, Apr 27, 2011
Taipei Times

Taipei’s Department of Cultural Affairs promised to halt a construction project and restore a broken platform at the Sugar Refinery Cultural Park in Wanhua District (萬華) after confirming that the platform, which dates back to the Japanese colonial period, was damaged.

The sugar mill began operation in 1911 as the only sugar factory north of Taoyuan. However, the once-busy factory ended operations after World War II, with its empty buildings and the run-down warehouses mirroring the decline of Taiwan’s sugar industry.

The department designated the three remaining warehouses a city monument in 2003 and turned the site into a cultural park.

The department invited Ming Hwa Yuan Arts & Cultural Group to promote traditional Taiwanese opera and allowed it to tear down a railroad platform last week for reconstruction.

The move sparked protests from residents who accused the group and the department of not protecting the historic site, and urged the Taipei City Government to stop any construction project.

Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) Taipei City Councilor Chou Wei-you (周威佑) joined residents in lashing out at the city government for the damage to the monument after an inspection on Saturday.

“The city government and Ming Hwa Yuan are culture rogues. The platform is part of the historical factory and it is ridiculous that renovation projects that damage the structure can be allowed in there,” he said.

Wang Yi-chun (王逸群), chief secretary of the culture department, said it had invited cultural heritage committee members to conduct an onsite inspection on Monday, and reached an agreement that the department should restore the original structure of the platform as soon as possible.

The department has already asked the Ming Hwa Yuan troupe to halt the construction, Wang said.
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Old May 10th, 2011, 06:13 PM   #143
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Sun, May 08, 2011
Taipei Times
Housing policy is misguided

Just weeks before Taiwan is scheduled to implement a luxury tax on June 1 to help suppress real-estate speculation, the government last week said it was considering new plans to help those with low incomes deal with the housing availability problem.

On Wednesday, the Council for Economic Planning and Development (CEPD) said it was planning a low-cost “modern housing” program to assist low-income families in buying their own homes so they won’t have to be lifelong renters.

Then, on Thursday, the Cabinet said it was considering expanding a preferential home mortgage program for first-time homebuyers between the ages of 20 and 45. It also said each eligible homebuyer would be able to apply for up to NT$7.2 million (US$251,748) in loans, up from the previous NT$5 million, with the repayment period likely extending to 30 years from the original 20 years.

Some people called the new plans good complementary measures to the luxury tax, saying that the introduction of the luxury tax has stifled the housing market even before its implementation. It is hard to predict the effectiveness of the new plans at this point in time, but it looks suspiciously like the government made the move out of political considerations ahead of the presidential and legislative elections on Jan. 14.

The CEPD claimed its “modern housing” program was different from other government-sponsored programs such as the Ministry of the Interior’s “social housing,” saying its program could allow homebuyers to own the property for a period of up to 70 years. In contrast, “social housing” consists of apartments rented out to the poor, the elderly and minority groups.

No matter what these government-initiated housing programs are called and how they are built and sold, they are all forms of public housing, aiming to introduce a limited supply of low-cost housing to meet the needs of certain homebuyers, especially those with a low income or those who have never owned a house.

Because they remain public housing projects, they still face the same problem of a long-term negative perception about public housing complexes, which tend to be associated with problems such as inferior construction quality and poor public safety. Since the number of these low-cost housing units is limited, they are not likely to make any meaningful impact on the housing market, which means these programs will not help bring down excessive home prices in urban areas, nor make purchasing a house any easier.

Worse, because housing prices remain high, the government’s revised preferential home mortgage program for young people will just encourage more first-time homebuyers to buy houses and burden themselves with a life-long mortgage. Under either the 20-year home loan program or the 30-year one, would-be homebuyers may end up sacrificing their own quality of life, as they will have to make mortgage payments the most important priority in their life.

The government’s efforts to deal with the housing problem are welcome, but it is immoral and most undesirable to let first-time homebuyers, especially young people, play a major role in supporting the housing market. Instead of coming up with rash policies, the government needs to change its mindset about housing and educate the public to redefine their priorities in life, because like it or not, high housing prices are not likely to fall substantially any time soon unless the market were to crash.
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Old May 21st, 2011, 08:00 AM   #144
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Sat, May 21, 2011
Biotech park closer to approval
Taipei Times Staff Writer, with CNA

The government yesterday “conditionally approved” an initial environmental assessment for a proposed national biotechnology research park near a Taipei wetland, despite criticism from environmentalists.

The project will be re--evaluated for final approval at another environmental assessment meeting, possibly next month at the earliest.

Yesterday was the third -meeting held by the Environmental Protection Administration (EPA) to review the project and environmental experts gave the project’s developer, Academia Sinica, 10 conditions to meet before they could fully approve the park.

The conditions included maintaining the ecosystem in the wetlands area, forming a committee to supervise the protection of the wetland, as well as obtaining green building credentials.

The proposed park would be located at the 202 Arsenal, an abandoned military facility in Taipei’s Nangang District (南港).

Academia Sinica president Wong Chi-huey (翁啟惠) said the nation’s top academic research body would factor in these conditions and produce a more detailed report on how to meet them.

Wong acknowledged that his organization has learned a lot from activists who were advocating for the preservation of the wetlands.

Wong expressed optimism that the project could receive final approval by June 10 and that it would be built by 2017.

Despite Academia Sinica’s assurances that it would protect the wetlands, environmental groups are doubtful, saying that once the ecosystem is damaged, projects to save it would be of no use.

“Let’s give these wetlands a break,” Chang Hsiao-feng (張曉風), a local writer who strongly opposes the project, said at the meeting yestersday. “It would be very easy to find another -location for the biotech park. Let this -ecosystem stay intact.”

The area has been previously described by Chang as “Taipei’s last plot of green land,” for which she has knelt in front of television cameras and begged for the preservation of the wetlands.

Liao Pen-chuan (廖本全), a professor in National Taipei University’s Department of Real Estate and Built Environment, said the park should not be built in Taipei because the capital is overcrowded.

He said Academia Sinica should set a good example and move the project to another area.
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Old May 23rd, 2011, 05:46 PM   #145
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Fri, May 20, 2011
Taipei Times
By Mo Yan-chih / Staff Reporter
Relocation plan upsets food vendors in Shilin

The Taipei City Government is moving ahead with plans to relocate more than 500 food stalls in the Shilin Night Market to a renovated building in November despite protests from some vendors and residents.

Market Administration Office director Ding Juo-ting (丁若庭) said yesterday that the building was the original home of the 538 food stalls before they were moved to their present location to allow for the building’s renovation, and the city would stick to its schedule of a November relocation.

An extensive renovation plan for the night market, a popular destination for both local and foreign visitors, began in 2002 and the food stalls were moved to a site across the street from the MRT’s Jiantan Station.

The renovated building has three underground floors and a ground floor. According to the office’s plan, about 100 of the 538 food stalls will be moved to the basement — and that has upset some vendors.

“I don’t think people want to go to a night market that is indoors and underground,” an oyster omelet vendor surnamed Chen said.

Many Internet users also voiced their opposition to the plan on Taipei Mayor Hau Lung-bin’s (郝龍斌) Facebook page, calling on Hau to halt the plan so the Shihlin Night Market doesn’t go the way of the Jiancheng Circle (建成圓環).

The Jiancheng Circle, Taipei’s oldest food market, was located at the intersection of Chongqing N Road and Nanjing W Road. It finally closed its doors in 2006 after a massive renovation project by the city government failed to revive its fortunes.

“Night markets have a unique ambience. It’s different from air-conditioned food courts in the malls and that’s what attracts us to the night markets. We should preserve such unique culture,” a netizen named Miso Chang wrote on Hau’s Facebook wall.

Another netizen, surnamed Ho (何), urged Hau to listen to the voice of the people and save the Shihlin night market from becoming “another Jiancheng Circle.”

Hau has instructed city officials to continue communicating with the food vendors, but to complete the relocation according to the original schedule.
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Old May 25th, 2011, 06:05 PM   #146
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Taipei targets 10 major roads for new plantings
Wed, May 25, 2011
Taipei Times

A total of 35 major roads will be turned into “green boulevards” in the next four years, Taipei Mayor Hau Lung-bin (郝龍斌) said yesterday, describing plans to turn Taipei into a “garden city” with more than 4,500 trees along its roads.

The Taipei City Government will prioritize planting 1,256 trees along 10 roads that are currently without trees, including Tiding Boulevard, part of Xinglong Road, Zhongshe Road and Beian Road, by the end of this year, according to the Parks and Street Lights Office.

For the 25 roads and boulevards that already have trees, such as Renai, Xinyi and Dunhua, the city will either replace old trees with new ones or keep the trees well maintained.

“Following the Taipei International Flora Expo, a growing number of Taipei residents expect Taipei to be more beautiful and so we will make Taipei a garden city through our green boulevard project,” Hau told a press conference at Taipei City Hall.

Parks and Street Lights Office director Chen Jia-chin (陳嘉欽) said the city will budget NT$70 million (US$2.4 million) and plant 4,641 trees along the 35 roads by 2014, increasing the total number of roadside trees to 92,912.

On Xinyi Road, for example, 1,988 trees will be planted after construction of the MRT Xinyi Line is completed next year. Chen said the city has also decided not to remove 286 banyan and autumn maple trees that were to be uprooted to make way for the construction.

Chen said the city would select trees that are grown in Taiwan and have strong roots, or non-deciduous trees, so that they would suffer less damage during typhoon season.

The city will also plant Taiwan cherry blossom trees and Crape myrtle trees as part of its efforts to add colors to the city’s scenery.

Increasing the number of trees in the city was one of Hau’s campaign promises when he ran for re-election last year.

The city government has formed a task force to implement the project. Horticultural and botany experts would be asked to help select the appropriate trees, Hau said.

In need of green

Ten major roads:

Tiding Boulevard (堤頂大道)

Xinglong Road, Sections 1 and 2 (興隆路一、二段)

Zhongshe Road (中社路)

Roosevelt Road, Sections 5 and 6 (羅斯福路五、六段)

Xinhai Road (辛亥路)

Xinyi Road (信義路)

Nanjing E and W Roads (南京東西路)

Jianguo N and S Roads (建國南北路)

Xinsheng N and S Roads (新生南北路)

Beian Road, Alley No. 501 (北安路501巷)

Twenty-five other roads or public areas:

Bei-an Road (北安路)

Academia Road, Sections 1 and 2 (考試院路一、二段)

Area surrounding Nangang Exhibition Center

Zhi Shan Road, Section 3 (至善路三段)

Renai Road (仁愛路)

Zhongshan S Road (中山南路)

Civic Boulevard, Section 5 (市民大道五段)

Zhonghua Road (中華路)

Aiguo W Road (愛國西路)

Area surrounding Taipei Railway Station

Area surrounding Taipei International Airport

Area surrounding Taipei City Hall Plaza

Area surrounding Dunhua Park

Minquan E Road (民權東路)

Xinzhong Road (行中路)

Minquan W Road (民權西路)

Chengde Road (承德路)

Chongching N Road (重慶北路)

Gugong Road (故宮路)

Dunhua N and S Roads (敦化南北路)

Minsheng E and W Roads (民生東西路)

Zhongxiao E Road (忠孝東路)

Hoping E and W Roads (和平東西路)

Keelung Road (基隆路)

Huanghe N and S Roads (環河南北路)
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Old May 31st, 2011, 10:58 AM   #147
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Parks may disappear with Taipei Beautiful program
Now that the Flora Expo is over, areas turned into green spaces for 18 months look set to be used for development, with extra land thrown in to boot
28 April 2011
Taipei Times

The former office building of the Chinese-language United Daily News Group on Zhongxiao E Road was turned into a park last year, becoming a recreational spot for many of the areas residents. However, the park will be replaced by a high-rise building in 2014.

An additional 72 parks around Taipei City could also be replaced by buildings under the Taipei Beautiful program, the Taipei City Governments urban renewal project to beautify the city for the Taipei International Flora Expo, which concluded on Monday.

Under the program, owners of old buildings located within 500m of major tourist attractions and transportation hubs who agreed to turn the buildings into green spaces for 18 months are now eligible for a bulk reward of an extra 3 percent to 10 percent of their initial land size when they develop the site in the wake of the expo.

Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) Taipei City Councilor Kao Chia-yu yesterday accused the city government of profiting conglomerates and contributing to skyrocketing housing prices.

Kao said the city would create more than 20,000 ping (66,000m2) of land for the 73 urban renewal applicants, with potential profits totaling more than NT$12 billion (US$390 million) when the bulk reward of up to 10 percent is included.

Huang Jui-mao, board chairman of OURs, a non-profit organization that combats speculation and urban renewal projects that benefit private investors, described the program as a fraud that profited private investors and urged the city government not to sacrifice green space for the sake of gains for a few investors.

The extra land covered by the bulk reward is a public resource, not private property, and the city government should not use it as a gift to conglomerates, he said.

However, Chang Wen-te, chief engineer at the Taipei City Urban Redevelopment Office, said the program aimed to improve the citys appearance by encouraging private landowners to demolish old buildings, adding that it would be difficult to achieve this goal if the city government did not offer incentives.

The urban renewal committee would carefully review each of the 73 renewal cases before determining the percentage of extra land applicants would be granted, he said.
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Old June 3rd, 2011, 03:35 PM   #148
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Taipei Dome gets a green light
Fri, May 27, 2011
Taipei Times


Protesters demonstrate outside Taipei City Hall yesterday as an environmental impact assessment review committee discussed the proposed construction of the Taipei Dome on the site of the abandoned Songshan Tobacco Factory in Xinyi District. The protesters oppose what they see as the highly commercial nature of the project.
Photo: Chang Chia-ming, Taipei Times


A review committee yesterday gave conditional approval to the Taipei Dome construction project, paving the way for the construction of the long-stalled building amid ongoing protests by environmental activists who oppose the 500,000m2 commercial complex in downtown Xinyi District (信義).

Taipei City’s Environmental Impact Assessment Review Committee, by a vote of eight to five, approved the project on the condition that the developer reduce the size of the commercial facilities at the complex and increase the number of parking spaces.

The size of the commercial facilities, including a shopping mall, movie theater, hotel and office space, should be cut by 17.4 percent to 202,610m2, while parking space should be increased to 187,965m2, the committee said.

The conditions also included adding another lane to Zhongxiao E Road, presenting a traffic plan that avoids traffic congestion in residential areas along the road and acquiring environmentally friendly building certification.

Committee chair Wu Sheng-chong (吳聖忠), commissioner of the city’s Department of Environmental Protection, said after the three-hour meeting that the developer should meet all the requirements before construction can begin.

The decision put an end to the long-delayed environmental impact assessment for the project.

Committee members expressed concern about the profit-driven design of the complex and said the developer should devote more space to sports, while presenting comprehensive solutions to traffic congestion, among other environmental impacts.

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, which would include a 40,000-seat indoor stadium.

Tsai Chung-i (蔡宗易), vice president of the group’s public relations department, said the company would estimate the impact of reducing the size of the commercial facilities on future profits, declining to confirm whether the company would continue with the project.

“[The conditional approval] of the Taipei Dome project is good news for the public because Taiwan needs a professional sports venue to host international events,” Tsai said after the meeting at Taipei City Hall. “However, as the contractor, we need to make sure for our shareholders that the operation of the complex is profitable.”

Environmental groups were not satisfied with the outcome.

Taiwan Green Party spokesman Pan Han-shen (潘翰聲) said city officials accounted for seven of the 13 committee members and Pan accused the city government of hijacking the review process.

“The review process and the voting were against procedural justice,” he said.

Farglory should send a revised project plan to the city’s urban development committee for approval, before applying for a construction license if it decides to cooperate with the requirements, the committee said.
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Old June 29th, 2011, 04:59 AM   #149
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Approval finally given for Taipei Dome construction
17 June 2011
Taipei Times

The long-stalled Taipei Dome project passed the final review process yesterday, obtaining approval from Taipei Citys Urban Design Review Committee, with construction scheduled to start in October.

The approval was the final step for the project after the citys Environmental Impact Assessment Review Committee granted conditional approval on May 26. The urban design committee said the contractor should make adjustments to the plans in accordance with the requirements of the environmental impact committee before beginning construction.

The environmental impact committee required the developer of the project Farglory Group to reduce the size of the complexs commercial facilities, including a shopping mall, movie theater, hotel and office space by 17 percent to 202,610m2, and increase parking space to 187,965m2.

The conditions also included adding another lane to Zhong-xiao E Road, presenting a traffic plan that avoids congestion in nearby residential areas and acquiring environmentally friendly building certification.

Ting Yu-chun, urban design committee chair and commissioner of Taipei Citys Urban Development Department, said the developer must revise its plans to meet the conditions before applying for a construction license.

Janus Lee, manager of Farglorys operation administration department, said the company would make the adjustments immediately and apply for a construction license by July 2, with preliminary plans for construction to begin in October.

The urban design committees decision was met with protests from environmentalists and local residents, who said the project would have a negative impact on traffic flow and the environment.

Taiwan Green Party spokesman Pan Han-shen said various committee members had expressed concerns about the project in previous review meetings, but the city government insisted on approving the project. Pan urged Taipei Mayor Hau Lung-bin to hold a public debate with environmentalists on whether the city needs another commercial complex in downtown Xinyi District.
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Old June 29th, 2011, 05:46 AM   #150
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Quote:
Originally Posted by hkskyline View Post
Approval finally given for Taipei Dome construction
17 June 2011
Taipei Times

The long-stalled Taipei Dome project passed the final review process yesterday, obtaining approval from Taipei Citys Urban Design Review Committee, with construction scheduled to start in October.

The approval was the final step for the project after the citys Environmental Impact Assessment Review Committee granted conditional approval on May 26. The urban design committee said the contractor should make adjustments to the plans in accordance with the requirements of the environmental impact committee before beginning construction.

The environmental impact committee required the developer of the project Farglory Group to reduce the size of the complexs commercial facilities, including a shopping mall, movie theater, hotel and office space by 17 percent to 202,610m2, and increase parking space to 187,965m2.

The conditions also included adding another lane to Zhong-xiao E Road, presenting a traffic plan that avoids congestion in nearby residential areas and acquiring environmentally friendly building certification.

Ting Yu-chun, urban design committee chair and commissioner of Taipei Citys Urban Development Department, said the developer must revise its plans to meet the conditions before applying for a construction license.

Janus Lee, manager of Farglorys operation administration department, said the company would make the adjustments immediately and apply for a construction license by July 2, with preliminary plans for construction to begin in October.

The urban design committees decision was met with protests from environmentalists and local residents, who said the project would have a negative impact on traffic flow and the environment.

Taiwan Green Party spokesman Pan Han-shen said various committee members had expressed concerns about the project in previous review meetings, but the city government insisted on approving the project. Pan urged Taipei Mayor Hau Lung-bin to hold a public debate with environmentalists on whether the city needs another commercial complex in downtown Xinyi District.
Finally!
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Old July 2nd, 2011, 08:05 PM   #151
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Residents still unhappy at Taipei Dome project
Taipei Times
By Lee I-Chia / Staff Reporter
Sun, Jul 03, 2011

Many local residents and environmental activists remain unhappy with the Taipei Dome project, despite Farglory Group having earlier this year secured conditional approval from the Taipei City Government’s Environmental Impact Assessment Review Committee after it revised its plan for the project.

The long-stalled Taipei Dome build-operate-transfer (BOT) project began in 2006 when the city government signed a contract with Farglory to construct a 40,000-seat indoor stadium complex with -commercial facilities at the abandoned Songshan Tobacco Factory (松山菸廠) site.

After the project conditionally passed the city’s environmental impact assessment in late May, the contractor was asked to revise its plans and apply for a construction license with the city government by yesterday, which was the second extended deadline for the contract.

Environmental protection activists and local residents have continued to protest against the dome, calling for more recreational land, such as a large municipal park in place of the project.

Early last month, several city councilors expressed their support for a park.

They passed a decision demanding that if Farglory cannot gain a construction license and a financing contract with a bank, then the contract deadline should not be further extended.

While supporting the proposal for a municipal park, the councilors also urged the city’s environmental protection agency to thoroughly examine possible environmental impact and to look for other suitable sites for the dome.

All 41 Xinyi District (信義) borough chiefs expressed their support for a park by making a signed petition public on Wednesday.

The Songshan Tobacco Factory Park Union, a civic group which is against the project, said that there have been too many procedural injustices during the process, including the environmental impact assessment neglecting to take into account opposing opinions.

The union has urged the Control Yuan to investigate the administrative processes and said it would file lawsuits against the city government if sufficient information is found.

Taipei City spokesman Chang Chi-chiang (張其強) said that Farglory submitted a financial document on Friday and a mediation committee was held yesterday to discuss the case. Results of the meeting was unavailable at press time.
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Old July 8th, 2011, 01:48 AM   #152
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Unique building.
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Old July 12th, 2011, 07:56 PM   #153
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Sun, Jul 10, 2011
Taipei Times
CyberMart to begin building Akihabara-like center in Taipei
Staff Writer, with CNA

The Taipei IT Park, envisaged as a local version of Japan’s Akihabara electronics shopping area, is scheduled to break ground tomorrow, the developer of the project said yesterday.

CyberMart, which won the bid to develop the IT center in April, said that Hon Hai Precision Industry Co chairman Terry Gou (郭台銘) would address the ground--breaking ceremony, while Taipei Mayor Hau Lung-bin (郝龍斌) would also be present at the event.

CyberMart is the consumer electronics product retail arm of Hon Hai, the world’s largest contract electronics maker. Hon Hai founded CyberMart in an effort to diversify its business into the retail sector.

The developer said construction of the IT zone was scheduled to be completed in 2013 and is expected to begin operations in the same year.

It will be located next to the Guanghua Computer Market in Taipei, a location proposed by the Taipei City Government. Taipei plans to turn the area into a local version of Japan’s bustling Akihabara district.

CyberMart is expected to invest about NT$3.8 billion (US$132 million) in the project, which will include a 12-story building with a floor area of 7,893 ping (26,126m2). CyberMart will operate the building for 50 years on a build--operate-transfer (BOT) basis.

The area is expected to accommodate between 70 and 80 high-tech firms, it said.
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Old July 17th, 2011, 09:51 AM   #154
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Residents protest demolitions
Taipei Times
By Lee I-chia / Staff Reporter
Sun, Jul 10, 2011

Residents from Erchong Borough (二重) in New Taipei City’s (新北市) Sanchong District (三重) gathered on Ketagalan Boulevard in front of the Presidential Office in Taipei yesterday morning to protest against the special municipality’s compulsory acquisition of their homes.

During the protest, residents placed fruit on tables as an offering to the gods and burned incense sticks.

“God, please find out for us who will profit from tearing our homes down,” the protesters said.

The forced demolition is scheduled to take place at the end of the year as part of the city’s Tamsui River “Manhattan Riverside” project, which will expand the width of a road that goes through the neighborhood in Erchong Borough by demolishing 69 buildings.

The residents filed a petition with the Presidential Office after the protest in the morning.

Earlier this week, a separate petition was filed with the Control Yuan, requesting that it look into the case to determine if the special municipal government had violated administrative procedures or had broken the law.

An elderly resident surnamed Wu (吳) wept as she said she had washed clothes for more than 40 years to buy a home in the area, but now the government was taking it away from her.

“Please don’t tear it down, or at least give us a new home to live in,” she said. “We don’t know what to do ... how can we live?”

Another resident, surnamed Chuang (莊), said 20 percent of his home had already been torn down for a road expansion 30 years ago, adding that if the government were to go through with its plan to -demolish more of his home, he will be left with only 1m2 of land to live on.

“That’s about the size of a man standing,” he said.

The residents said they only accidentally learned about this plan in April when a resident was surfing the Internet and came across a city government briefing.

The buildings were built on a flood plain that has been designated a “no construction district” for 40 years, but when residents learned that the prohibition had finally been lifted this year, they also learned that they face eviction from their homes.

According to the Urban Planning Act (都市計畫法), residents of affected areas in urban planning projects must be notified about hearings through reports published in newspapers before the plans can be sent to government review commissions for approval.

Resident Chen Wei (陳瑋) said the head of the borough and residents were not properly informed of the project through public bulletin boards or by mail, adding that the government had only published the information on the China Daily News, a local newspaper published mainly in Greater Tainan.

Chen said the Urban and Rural Development Department could not answer their questions about traffic volume and floor area ratio in the nearby boroughs, nor could he say why the road expansion is needed.

The government seems to be concealing information and violating legal procedures, lawyer Chan Wen-kai (詹文凱) said, adding that the procedures should be done again to take the residents’ opinions into account.

Published on Taipei Times :
http://www.taipeitimes.com/News/taiw.../10/2003507874
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Old July 18th, 2011, 04:55 AM   #155
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Mon, Jul 18, 2011
Taipei Times
Land developers focus on new projects

Land developers are expected to launch more than NT$100 billion (US$3.46 billion) in new construction projects this month, indicating that the lunar “Ghost Month,” when people are traditionally more reticent about conducting business, did not impair the nation’s property market, property analysts said yesterday.

Major land developers, -including Farglory Land Development Co (遠雄建設) and Kindom Construction Corp (冠德建設), are rolling out NT$106.1 billion worth of new home projects in New Taipei City (新北市) -and Taoyuan County despite Ghost Month, which falls between July 31 and Aug. 28 this year.

“The impact of Ghost Month, during which people are advised against getting married, traveling and moving into new homes, is diminishing,” Chinese-language Housing Monthly (住展雜誌) spokesman Ni Tzu-jen (倪子仁) said by telephone.

Ni said the trend is more evident in the pre-sale housing segment of the market, as it takes two years to complete construction.

Farglory Development is set to launch a NT$50 billion pre-sale home project in Zhonghe District (中和), New Taipei City this weekend and unveil a NT$4 billion undertaking in Taoyuan County next month.

Kindom Construction Corp (冠德建設) plans to market NT$4.5 billion in pre-sale homes in Sanchong District (三重), New Taipei City, while Sanyuan Group (三圓建設) is to roll out a new construction project valued at NT$3.4 billion in Xindian District (新店).

“The pricing strategy for those new projects will attract much scrutiny as the market is still trying to digest the impact of the luxury tax,” Ni said.

The levy, intended to curb soaring housing prices, subjects houses resold within two years of purchase to a tax of up to 15 percent of its transaction value.

The measure has cooled down the housing market, but so far failed to trigger a price correction, Ni said.

Shining Building Business Co (鄉林建設) recently launched an aggressive advertisement campaign to promote its newly completed luxury homes in Taichung. Shining chairman Lai Cheng-yi (賴正鎰) said Ghost Month did not impact the company’s marketing strategy.

“Rather, we are upbeat about the housing market after Taiwan’s opening to independent Chinese tourists [on June 28],” Lai said.

The influence of Ghost Month on second-hand home transactions is also fading.

Jessica Hsu (徐佳馨), head researcher at H&B Realty (住商不動產), the nation’s largest real-estate broker by number of franchises, said that housing deals in the “inauspicious” Ghost Month dipped a modest 5 percent in recent years compared with other months of the year.

“As the nation becomes more urbanized, Ghost Month has become less relevant in home purchase decisions,” Hsu said by telephone.
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Old July 19th, 2011, 04:57 AM   #156
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INTERVIEW: Real-estate mogul discusses market prospects
Taipei Times
Mon, Jul 18, 2011

Shining Group, owner of Shining Building Business Co and operator of the upscale Lalu Hotel, is set to make a return to the nation’s booming real estate market by launching new housing projects. Lai Cheng-i, chairman of the Taichung-based property developer, talked about the firm’s prospects, the housing market and the company’s development plans in an interview last week with ‘Taipei Times’ staff reporter Crystal Hsu

Taipei Times: How do you think Taiwan’s real estate market will fare in the second half of the year, given the impact of the luxury tax, the nation’s opening to independent Chinese tourists and various economic fundamentals?

Lai Cheng-i (賴正鎰): I believe the sector will see stable growth in the next three to five years. Interest rates remain the No. 1 influence on the sector. Today, the interest rate on housing mortgage loans remains low at about 2.5 percent a year and such low rates make home purchases practical and desirable.

China, which accounts for 40 percent of Taiwan’s exports, is expected to continue to post strong economic growth, even though Europe is plagued by a debt crisis and the US recovery is staggering.

More hot money may flow to Asia to take advantage of the region’s fast-growing economy.

Foreign investors are seeking opportunities to cooperate with Taiwanese firms in jointly tapping China’s [property] market.

All these are positive signs for the property market.

The only downside risk could come from the government as reflected in the introduction of the luxury tax last month to curb housing prices.

It was the new levy that made land developers more cautious about launching new construction projects last quarter.

Revenues from new construction projects totaled about NT$800 billion (US$27.72 billion) last year. Transactions are likely to stay flat this year because of the three-month lull. Without the tax, they would have hit NT$1 trillion.

TT: Are housing prices in Taiwan unreasonably high — many people are complaining that they cannot afford to buy a home?

Lai: That is not true. Only housing prices in Taipei and parts of New Taipei City (新北市) have picked up significantly. I don’t understand why people have to own houses in Taipei City, especially in prime locations such as Da-an (大安) and Xinyi (信義) districts.

The housing units we have built in Taichung average between NT$130,000 and NT$140,000 per ping. Second-hand homes can even cost between NT$90,000 and NT$100,000 per ping. Housing prices in Yunlin, Chiayi and Tainan counties are even lower.

The government’s unbalanced development plan is responsible for this price differential as it has utilized most government resources in the capital, financially and politically.

It could address this issue by strengthening infrastructure or building mass rapid transit systems in different parts of the nation, to encourage people to move.

That is why some people have said the government should move the capital to central Taiwan and relocate technological and industrial firms to southern Taiwan.

TT: That means we may see housing prices in Greater Taipei climb higher despite the introduction of the luxury tax?

Lai: Prices are determined by supply and demand. We have 50 people hunting for vacant plots in the Greater Taipei area, but we can only find two plots a year for development.

Scarce supply fuels the need for urban regeneration, but it usually takes five years or longer to finish a project. This limited supply makes a price correction unlikely in Taipei or New Taipei City.

In my view, it is healthy for housing prices to increase 5 percent annually.

The government’s attempt to curb price increase will only delay price hikes as shown in recently released housing price data and it is unlikely to have a more long-term impact.

TT: What plans does the Shining Group’s (鄉林集團) Shining Building Business Co (鄉林建設) have for this year and next year?

Lai: We have operations in Taiwan and China. Domestically, the company is looking to roll out new construction projects worth between NT$30 billion and NT$50 billion a year. This year’s target is set at NT$30 billion and it will be the same next year. About 80 percent of the construction projects this year will be in Taipei. All the projects are upscale housing units, targeting wealthy people at home and from Greater China.

In China, we aim to launch NT$100 billion in land development projects every year and to build branches of our six-star hotel The Lalu (涵碧樓) in 23 Chinese cities. The hotel construction project in Qingdao will be completed next year and new construction plans in Nanjing and Guilin will begin later this year.

TT: How much are Chinese homebuyers contributing to Shining’s revenue?

Lai: Since the ban [on Chinese buying houses in Taiwan] was lifted in 2002, Taiwanese firms have sold only 45 housing units to Chinese and none of those was built by Shining. I expect the number to increase to 200 by the end of this year because of the opening to independent Chinese tourists.

I do not think that the fact Chinese are only allowed to live in Taiwan four months a year will reduce the appetite of Chinese investors for local real estate. Many of them are rich, need to diversify their asset portfolio and they are bullish about Taiwan’s property market.

TT: Will more Taiwanese capital flow into China after the government removes the US$50 million cap on single project land development investments?

Lai: There is no reason for this to cause worry in Taiwan. For most Chinese investments, we have only 30 percent of funding on hand and borrow the rest from Chinese lenders. I urged the government to relax the investment rule because development projects in China usually involve amounts larger than US$50 million. The deregulation will give domestic land developers a freer hand in competing there. Companies will wire their earnings back to Taiwan at a later date.

TT: What do you think the government can do to achieve a fairer housing market?

Lai: The government could learn from Singapore by turning public land into affordable housing units for low income households. It could also lease housing units to those who can’t afford mortgage payments.

The so-called fair housing project in Linkou is quite expensive, priced at NT$150,000 per ping. In my view, NT$80,000 to NT$100,000 per ping makes more sense.

However, the extension of the mass rapid transit system to Taiwan Taoyuan International Airport makes it more practical for people to own a house there without having to give up their jobs in Taipei. I believe such programs could be applied in other parts of the nation at some future date, to great effect.

Published on Taipei Times :
http://www.taipeitimes.com/News/biz/.../18/2003508478
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Old July 21st, 2011, 08:09 PM   #157
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Fri, Jul 22, 2011
Farglory chairman criticizes tax hikes on luxury houses
Taipei Times

Farglory Group (遠雄集團) chairman Chao Teng-hsiung (趙藤雄) yesterday voiced his reservations about a new set of planned tax hikes on luxury homes, saying that the move might hurt the housing sector and would also fail to improve the national treasury.

Chao made the remarks after the Taipei City Government said on Wednesday that it planned to raise taxes on the city’s luxury homes for the second time this year because it said the current levy is too low.

“Policymakers should think twice about tax reforms that may have a negative impact on business activity,” Chao said on the sidelines of a public function.

RECKLESS

Reckless tax increases might scare away investors, which is in opposition to the government’s efforts to boost private investment and create job opportunities, he said.

Chao, whose Farglory Land Development Co (遠雄建設) aims to launch NT$63 billion (US$2.2 billion) in new housing projects this year, questioned the wisdom of the proposed tax hikes, particularly after the city government has already increased the tax burden on about 10,000 luxury homes this month.

Upscale housing is also an indicator of a country’s internationalization and policies to discourage its presence serve only to impair that process, the land developer said.

UNREASONABLE

The Taipei City Government said that the present housing tax failed to reflect the true market value of luxury properties, rendering the levy unfair and unreasonable.

Fuel taxes on durable goods such as cars stand at about 2 percent of their value, whereas taxes on luxury homes is 0.1 percent, the city government said.

The housing tax on a 130-ping apartment unit in The Palace (帝寶), the nation’s most expensive housing complex, should rise to NT$2 million from the current NT$350,000, the city government said.

Chao said that he would respect whatever decisions the city reached on the issue, but he warned that it would take a great amount of effort to remedy an incorrect policy.
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Old July 27th, 2011, 07:14 PM   #158
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Wednesday, July 27, 2011 11:44 am
The China Post news staff
Taipei to turn Shuanglian Market into 70-bed youth hostel: PCC

Taipei is seeking to turn the Shuanglian Market into a youth hostel, with the city slated to announce the open bidding process in one or two months, said the Public Constructions Commission (PCC) yesterday.

The hostel, to be located near the intersection of Minsheng West Road and Zhongshan North Road, will have 70 beds.

The project is part of the city's urban revitalization program, said PCC, which has also received similar applications from other cities and counties.

New Taipei City, Taoyuan County, Taitung County and Tainan have all applied to have old public buildings turned into either youth hostels or youth apartments, PCC said.
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Old July 28th, 2011, 08:51 PM   #159
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Fri, Jul 29, 2011
Prices increase as Greater Taipei housing deals drop
Taipei Times

Presale and new home transactions declined sharply in Greater Taipei last quarter, but prices climbed to new heights on the back of demand for an inflation hedge after speculators fled the market, a report released yesterday showed.

Land development and construction companies launched 11,586 units of presale and new homes worth about NT$199.6 billion (US$6.92 billion) during the second quarter in Greater Taipei, the quarterly survey by Cathay Real Estate Development Co (國泰建設) and National Chengchi University’s Taiwan Real Estate Research Center (台灣房地產中心) found.

The value shrank 36.3 percent from the preceding quarter and 22.9 percent from the year-earlier level as companies turned conservative ahead of the implementation of the new luxury tax last month.

In Taipei City, presale and new housing totaled 520 units, priced at NT$24.4 billion last quarter, a plunge of 69.7 percent from three months earlier and 74.9 percent from a year earlier, the report said.

The first-hand housing market reached 3,005 units valued at NT$75.4 billion, falling 32.6 percent from the first quarter and 67.8 percent from the previous year, the report indicated.

“The figures show Taipei City bearing the brunt of the luxury tax as transactions contracted more than 80 percent last quarter,” said Chang Chin-oh (張金鶚), a land economics professor at National Chengchi University and head of the research panel.

The housing market is more sensitive to unfavorable policies because speculation accounts for a sizable amount of trading, thanks to the low entry threshold.

However, the shrinking volume failed to exact price concessions from land developers or construction firms, as new housing costs gained 4.2 percent to NT$671,700 per ping (3.3m2) in the capital and 6.67 percent to NT$330,600 per ping in New Taipei City (新北市), the report said.

“The increasing number of luxury homes pushed up average prices,” Chang said.

“Expectations that Chinese capital will flow to local properties following the arrival of free independent Chinese travelers also lent support,” he said.

New housing priced at NT$1 million per ping or more took up 48 percent of presale units in Taipei City, the report said, as developers placed more emphasis on the segment.

Across the country, new housing averaged NT$239,500 per ping last quarter, an increase of 6.43 percent from the previous quarter, while transactions dropped 63.9 percent and price concession room widened to 15.62 percent, the report said.

The falling number of transactions and rising prices suggest the market has yet to find its equilibrium and requires a longer correction period, said Hua Ching-chun (花敬群), a finance and banking professor at Hsuan Chuang University and a member of the research panel.

“It is premature to pronounce the luxury tax a failure against such a backdrop,” Hua said. “The hype about Chinese capital will see its impact diminishing as in the past decade.”

A total of 45 housing units nationwide have been bought by Chinese capital so far.
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Old July 29th, 2011, 05:44 PM   #160
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Wed, Jul 27, 2011
Taipei Times
Leshan Village residents protest forced evictions

Residents of Leshan Village (樂善) in Taoyuan County’s Gueishan Township (龜山) yesterday staged a protest at the legislature in Taipei over a land expropriation deal after they said the government had failed to seek their consensus before auctioning off the site for a construction project.

The Ministry of the Interior (MOI) plans to use the location of the expropriation plan, named “A7 station of the Taoyuan International Airport MRT development project,” to build affordable housing and an industrial zone.

The site is located near the planned Taoyuan International Airport MRT, which will connect Taipei and Taiwan Taoyuan International Airport by passing through Linkou District (林口), New Taipei City (新北市), and the borders of Taoyuan County and New Taipei City.

The group yesterday called for the government to conduct negotiations with residents before proceeding with the expropriation process.

Democratic Progressive Party Legislator Pan Men-an (潘孟安), who accompanied the protesters yesterday, said Leshan Village had about 500 households, with the majority living in the community for decades. However, they are now facing sudden eviction, he said.

Pan said the government held an auction-in-advance for construction companies to bid for the land, before properly communicating with residents.

Hsu Shih-jung (徐世榮), a professor at the National Chengchi University’s Department of Land Economics, said the government was playing a two-sided act by saying it planned to build affordable housing on 236.63 hectares of land, while it actually only reserved 10.1 hectares (4.27 percent) of the land for housing, with 56.78 hectares (24 percent) slated for industrial use.

The expropriation deal was also a case of procedural injustice because the government did not communicate with residents to work out a suitable relocation plan before making the decision to expropriate their land, Hsu said.

The residents said they only found out last year that their land was slated to be expropriated.

“Officials always reply to us with the response that they are just doing their job in accordance with the law ... We have nowhere to go. We don’t know where to go,” said Hsu Yu-hung (徐玉紅), the chairperson of a self-help group.

The MOI has scheduled a meeting to discuss the case today.

Hsu Yu-hung said she would gather other self-help groups of residents facing land expropriation to resist the government if it continues to neglect their demands.
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