Fri, May 25, 2012 - Page 2 News List

‘Taipei Beautiful’ program a fraud: DPP councilor says

By Mo Yan-chih  /  Staff reporter

Taipei City Mayor Hau Lung-bin, right, speaks at Taipei City Hall yesterday. The scarecrow in front was prepared by Democratic Progressive Party Taipei City councilors as a criticism of the mayor, who they say has shown little compassion for people hit by recent price rises.

Photo: Liao Chen-huei, Taipei Times

More than 70 parks that were created under an urban renewal program initiated by the Taipei City Government in 2010 to improve the city’s landscape for the Taipei International Flora Expo are being replaced with high-rise buildings, a Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) Taipei City councilor said yesterday, accusing the Taipei City Government of luring private investors to take part in urban renewal projects with these temporary parks.

The Taipei Beautiful program allowed owners of old buildings within 500m of major tourist attractions and transportation hubs to enjoy a “bulk reward” of an extra 3 percent to 10 percent of their initial land size if they agreed to turn their buildings into green spaces for 18 months.

DPP Taipei City Councilor Yen Sheng-kuan (顏聖冠) said that when the six-month expo ended in April last year, private investors began to demolish the green spaces and started construction of high-rise buildings in their place. The city government has given more than 20,000 ping (66,116m2) of land to private investors, which was worth more than NT$12 billion (US$400 million).

“Taipei residents were fooled into thinking that the green parks would be there forever. However, the program is nothing but another city government fraud that benefits private investors and land developers,” she said yesterday when visiting the showroom of a real-estate project on Guangzhou Street.

“Turning abandoned land or old buildings into fake parks only costs a few million dollars, but private investors can earn billions by getting a 10 percent bulk reward in return. This program offers nothing in terms of public interest and it is unacceptable for the city government to give away public land to private owners,” she said.

In response, Liu Hui-feng (劉惠芬), a division chief at the Taipei City Urban Redevelopment Office, said the program aimed to improve the city’s appearance by encouraging private landowners to demolish old buildings, which would be difficult to achieve if the city government did not offer incentives.

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