Mon, Jan 25, 2010 - Page 12 News List

Linkou affordable housing project raises skepticism

By Joyce Huang  /  STAFF REPORTER

A government plan to provide affordable housing in Linkou Township (林口), Taipei County, by 2014 will require a raft of supporting measures to make it happen, pundits said.

“One precondition — that the Airport mass rapid transit [MRT] system commence operations so that [middle-income] residents will find it convenient to commute — will have to be met,” David Chen (陳春忠), director of H&B Business Group’s (住商不動產) Linkou outlet, said by telephone.

The project will be located near the National Taiwan Sport University stop on the airport line, which is scheduled to be completed in 2014.

To make it more attractive, unit prices in the housing project will also have to be between 20 percent and 30 percent lower than in nearby areas, preferably between NT$100,000 (US$3,100) and NT$150,000 per ping (3.3m²), he said.

Chen said new properties around Chang Gung Memorial Hospital in Gueishan Township (龜山), Taoyuan County, are priced at about NT$200,000 per ping, while those across the highway in Linkou could reach NT$250,000 per ping.

A survey by a local realtor found that property prices in Linkou averaged NT$170,000 per ping last quarter.

CONFIDENCE

The Ministry of the Interior’s Construction and Planning Agency, however, is confident that the new housing project, based on the concept of transportation-­oriented development, will work.

Under its initial design, the government will allocate about NT$23 billion to acquire more than 200 hectares for the project and partner with the private sector to create 4,000 units, said Hung Chia-hung (洪嘉宏), director of the agency’s urban and rural development branch.

The project will alleviate the apprehensions of ­middle-­­income earners over climbing property prices in Taipei, a development that has topped their list of grievances against President Ma Ying-jeou’s (馬英九) administration in the past two years, he said.

The project will also create steady traffic for the MRT system as residents are expected to commute between Taipei and Taoyuan for work, he said.

Hung brushed aside concerns that the project would add too much floor space in the area as the take-up for properties below NT$150,000 per ping in the vicinity has remained flat.

“If the MRT system is launched, I guarantee you that properties in Linkou will see a price increase and more take-up. Precedents have been seen elsewhere in Taipei County, such as in Banciao and Sinjhuang,” he said.

AFFORDABLE

Local media reported that the head of the construction agency has pledged to Premier Wu Den-yih (吳敦義) that the new housing project would be affordable, at about NT$3 million per 27-ping (89.2m²) home — less than half the price of any property in Taipei.

Hung, however, would not confirm this, saying that details about the project had yet to be finalized.

Private-sector developers and realtors, meanwhile, were skeptical about the housing project’s viability as the quality of past public housing units has often been substandard.

“The government should work more to create jobs,” Chao Teng-hsiung (趙藤雄), chairman of Farglory Group (遠雄企業), told reporters on the sidelines of a media briefing on Saturday to launch the “Future Hills” project in Linkou.

Farglory has initiated housing projects in the farmland-turned residential district.

QUESTIONS

Chao also said that commuters could find it expensive to drive through toll stations between Taipei and Linkou, which collect NT$40 per trip.

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