In contrast with the recent controversy over the Taipei City Government’s handling of a demolition of a family’s homes for an urban renewal project, the Greater Tainan Government’s handling of an almost identical situation yielded different results.
A plot of land on which Greater Tainan’s Nandu Theater stood involved the collaboration between the theater’s owners and the construction company to build a foundation on the land spanning 2,000m2 as part of the city government’s urban renewal plan.
However, the project was put on hold for seven years because the owner of a 22m2 plot of land in the proposed area, surnamed Tsai (蔡), had refused to sell the land to the construction firm.
The disputed land in Greater Tainan had once been part of a thriving commercial sector in the municipality, but the aging building and declining business at the theater over the years made it a public safety liability.
The owner of the theater and the construction company had reached a deal to develop the land, but despite efforts by the construction company to persuade and mediation by the city government, Tsai refused to sell the land.
According to Tsai, the city government and the construction company never made clear how the redevelopment project would impact the area, adding that the original plan called for the land to become public and that any reconstruction afterwards would have to be agreed on by all the owners of the deed.
Saying on Friday that his land was adjacent to a road, Tsai said: “I could build a better house than the company,” adding that even though the house had been modified and rebuilt, it remained in the family for three generations.
“I just couldn’t sell our ancestral house,” Tsai said.
The company finally received in May last year an agreement in principle from the city’s urban renewal and conflict mediating committees after they excluded Tsai’s land from the original plans.
The committee said the proposed space should provide a space for public arts with a separate exit and that the complex also had to establish an organization for long-term management. The committee further stipulated that the land be prohibited from being sold and the modified plans were later ratified by the Greater Tainan Council.
Commenting on the Taipei case, Tsai said it was regrettable that both the Taipei City Government and the construction company had ganged up on the owners who resisted the project.
No matter how much building companies want to profit, they should not infringe on other people’s rights, Tsai added.
Translated by Jake Chung, staff writer