Taipei Mayor Hau Lung-bin (郝龍斌) yesterday said he was confident that Shilin Night Market would continue to attract crowds despite a controversial relocation plan, describing the market as “an international tourism-oriented night market model.”
Hau made the remarks while inspecting a building that is being renovated to house 94 of the market’s food vendors, who will be relocated from a nearby temporary structure.
After being briefed about the new building’s layout, as well as its hardware and software installation, the mayor inspected the facilities in the four-story building — one at ground level and the other three underground.
Faced with rising complaints over the Taipei City Government’s plan to relocate some food vendors to the basement of the renovated building, Hau said that some people had misunderstood the city’s plans.
He said only the vendors in the temporary building, not all the food vendors at the night market, would be relocated and the temporary construction would be torn down to make way for an arts center.
He added that the city had held at least 20 rounds of talks with the night market’s self-help association and had done everything it could to address vendors’ needs.
Asked about reports that some vendors had complained that the allotted space in the new building would be smaller than what they currently have, Hau said they would actually have a bigger space at 2.5 ping (8.25m2) each — as opposed to the 2 ping they have at present. Hau said that aside from offering a bigger commercial space, the new building also has three escalators, three elevators and five stairways.
Lin Tien-lai (林天來), chief of the market’s self-help association, said the new building would be equipped with a central air conditioning system and 128 air vents, with each stand fitted with an oil and smoke-exhaust hood.
Speculation has been rampant in local media recently about the changes to the Shilin Night Market, an iconic tourist spot that attracts thousands of local and foreign visitors every day.
Some have predicted the market will completely lose its appeal if the city relocates the food vendors to the basement of the renovated building.
The relocation plan, set to begin in November, has also triggered protests among netizens who have launched an online petition that has attracted 140,000 signatures.
The market occupies several streets and lanes in an area bounded by Dadong Road, Jihe Road, Wenlin Road and Anping Street in the city’s Shilin District (士林).