Mon, Aug 27, 2007 - Page 2 News List

FEATURE: `Fashion market' helping revive area

VIBRANT Ximending's Red House has always been a marketing challenge for Taipei City, but a new event will take place every week in hopes of changing that

By Mo Yan-chih  /  STAFF REPORTER

The renovation of Ximending's Red House (西門紅樓) and the Ximen market has been a challenging task for the Taipei City Government as all rebuilding efforts since 2002 have only expedited the decline of business in the area.

However, a recent experimental two-day "fashion market festival" launched by the city's Department of Cultural Affairs last month in the Red House attracted more than 20,000 visitors and created revenues of NT$1 million (US$30,000), exciting city officials and inspiring them to try to revive the area by hosting a regular weekend fashion market and making it an urban hub for creativity and innovation.

A test-run period for the weekend fashion market in the Red House will be launched on Saturday and every weekend until November with hundreds of booths selling products from handmade accessories and T-shirts to art pieces. The market will also feature a bookstore, cafe and music performances, the department said.

"Setting up the fashion market in the historical Red House is a combination of new and old, and we believe the market will bring the area alive and make Taipei a more innovative city," department Commissioner Lee Yong-ping (李永萍) said on Friday during a meeting with local community and business representatives regarding the renovation project.

Targeting younger generations and tourists, the department will also seek out private businesses to open stores in the north and south plazas around the Red House after the test-run period to make the area another popular tourist attraction in the city, Lee said.

Lee said that multiple operation sectors should be blamed for the failed Ximen market renovation efforts in the past. As the city government authorized the department to take full charge of the operation of the area since last month, Lee expressed confidence on the success of the renovation, as the fashion markets expected to attract younger crowds in Ximending, a popular gathering area for teenagers.

Welcoming the department's plan, Sheng Wen-wen (沈玟玟), a member of Ximen Walk Zone Promotion Association, described the idea of the fashion market as a "sunshine project" for the area, and promised to help with the promotion of the market.

Local borough chief Kao Tieng-fu (高添福) and director of Ximen Market's administrative committee Huang Yung-chuan (黃永銓) also gave positive responses to the project, while urging the department to preserve the area's historical significance at the same time.

"The Ximen market is the oldest existing traditional market in the city. We hope the fashion market will still carry the historical footprints of Ximending, instead of a place where teenagers shop and leave," Huang said.

The Red House is an octagonal structure built of red brick in 1908. Originally called the "Octagon Market," it was the neighborhood market of the Ximen area and later home to a previous "Red Theater." In 1997, it was declared a Class 3 historical site by the department, and was later designated to be used as a venue for spoken-word and vocal performances starting in 2002 when former Taipei mayor Ma Ying-jeou's (馬英九) administration initiated a renovation project.

In addition to boosting business in the area, Lee said the project also aimed at providing a permanent location for young designers and encouraging the cultural industry through relaxing regulations and opening up municipal space for establishing fashion markets.

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