The Taipei City Government was urged yesterday to protect a former residential area in Yangmingshan that housed US army personnel between the 1950s and 1970s amid concerns that the land could be sold and commercially developed.
At a public hearing held by Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT) Legislator Ting Shou-chung (丁守中), lawmakers, an academic and cultural activists called for the preservation of a large housing complex built for US military advisers sent to Taiwan during the Cold War.
The base they lived on with their families was specially selected in 1952 in the Shanzihou (山仔后) area at the foot of Yangmingshan National Park.
The 13 hectare area is now owned by the Bank of Taiwan, Ting said, adding that the bank plans to transform it into a commercial zone for restaurants, guest houses or luxury housing.
The 118 houses still remaining from the period all have different interior designs and pillars made of hinoki wood, a highly prized building material, said Yang Tung-sheng (楊東盛), a representative of the neighborhood, adding that it would be sad if the houses were not preserved, 22 of which have been designated as historic buildings by the city.
O Han-ping (歐漢平), the director of a culture and history studio established to protect the area, said the city had tried to rezone the residential area into an area that combined commerce and housing.
However, Wang Yi-chun (王逸群), chief secretary of the city’s Department of Cultural Affairs, said the city had not agreed to the bank’s proposal to manage the complex using a build--operate-transfer (BOT) system because it would not be able to supervise future operations.
Hsieh Teng-lung (謝騰隆), executive vice president of the Bank of Taiwan, denied that the bank was planning a large-scale development in the area, saying the initiative was simply designed to revive the land.