Mon, Jun 06, 2011 - Page 2 News List

Unused public buildings may become housing units

Staff Writer, with CNA

The top government official in charge of public construction said over the weekend that unused public buildings could be turned into housing units for first-time homebuyers or low-income households.

Public Construction Commission Minister Lee Hong-yuan (李鴻源) said idle public buildings in Taipei and New Taipei City (新北市) could be turned into housing units to be rented to people who cannot afford to buy homes in the Greater Taipei area.

The high cost of housing in northern Taiwan — especially the capital — and the lack of public housing to fill the gap, remains one of the biggest problems facing central and local government.

In an interview with the Central News Agency, Lee said facilities such as cultural or activity centers that are currently unused could be converted into modern housing units that include broadband Internet services, proximity to mass rapid transit stations and community amenities.

With modern, novel designs, these remodeled residential buildings could even be new landmarks, he said.

Lee, a US-trained environmental engineer who formerly served as Taipei County (now known as New Taipei City) deputy mayor, said he had already asked colleagues at the commission to identify one or two of these “mosquito halls” as they are known locally, and would seek out local architecture institutes to design and plan new layouts for them.

Lee said he got the idea from an overseas friend who, along with four other families, bought a warehouse in the Netherlands and built five housing units on the site.

The converted housing complex, with its smart design and modern interiors, later became a local landmark, Lee quoted his friend as saying.

“It’s a brilliant idea to turn ‘mosquito halls’ into much-needed housing, as developers pay nothing for the land, the government resolves the problem of empty buildings and low-income earners get modern homes in good locations at affordable prices,” he said.

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