Sun, Mar 05, 2017 - Page 1 News List

Taipei man returns home only to find it torn down

By Sean Lin  /  Staff reporter

A house on Changan W Road in Taipei that was knocked down by a developer while the owner was negotiating a rehousing plan at the Taipei Urban Regeneration Office is pictured yesterday.

Photo: CNA

A Taipei resident on Friday found his home knocked down after returning from a meeting at the Taipei Urban Regeneration Office to discuss an urban renewal project for the building in which he had been living.

The man, surnamed Chang (張), a holdout in the project, said he returned to what would have been his home on Changan W Road at about noon, following a meeting with representatives of project contractor SWJ Construction Co (欣偉傑建設).

Chang, who lived on the fourth floor, said the building had collapsed and accused SWJ of tearing down his home.

Chang said that after he left the meeting, in which the two sides failed to reach an agreement, he was hit by a scooter and had to go to a police station to give an account of the accident, which he said was a ploy by the firm to stall him.

SWJ president Cheng Ko-shi (鄭可熙) said the company did not mean to tear down Chang’s home, but only the first three floors, whose owners had agreed to the renewal project.

Chang demanded NT$120 million (US$3.87 million) to vacate the building, which was far higher than what the home was worth, he said.

The firm is willing to pay Chang about NT$30 million, Cheng added.

He said the company in June last year had been granted a demolition permit from the office, as 98 percent of homeowners in the area agreed to the urban renewal project.

Chang denied Cheng’s claim, saying he had priced his home higher than its market value as a bargaining tactic.

Chang’s lawyer said he would file a suit against the firm for trespassing and causing damage.

The office said the demolition was legal, as SWJ had obtained construction and demolition permits according to Article 34 of the Urban Renewal Act (都市更新條例).

Office chief engineer Chang Li-li (張立立) said the office had no prior knowledge of the demolition, which he said was “regrettable.”

He said the company should have ensured that sufficient communication had taken place before it tore the building down.

Taipei Mayor Ko Wen-je (柯文哲) said the city government’s role in private urban renewal projects is to issue demolition permits in accordance with the law.

The way SWJ tore down Chang’s home is controversial, he said, adding that he had instructed the Taipei Department of Urban Development to redouble efforts to publicly explain the procedure for urban renewal projects.

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