Four old Japanese-style houses in Chiayi City that underwent facelifts were shown to the public on Thursday, but, to local residents’ disappointment, the authorities said the houses would not be used as hostels, but as stores or exhibition rooms.
The Chiayi Forest District Office, the property’s owner, said the set of 28 Japanese-style houses built during the Japanese colonial era were originally used as dormitories for Japanese workers.
The houses were built between 1914 and 1944 and were constructed using Formosan red cypress, the office said, adding that they have been designated as historical architecture by the Chiayi City Government.
The cost of the renovation project for the 28 houses amounted to NT$310 million (US$10.34 million), the office added.
Cheng Chun-teng (鄭鈞謄), a specialist at the office, said the houses were renovated based on the Cultural Heritage Preservation Act (文化資產保護法). According to Cheng, the office is trying to restore the houses to their original states. The renovation project, started in 2009, is scheduled to be completed by the end of the year, Cheng added.
Currently, the office has finished renovating four of the houses, which were unveiled to the public on Thursday.
The office said the houses would be divided into different sections, including a wood art section, agricultural product sections and others. The management of the renovated houses will be outsourced to a qualified contractor, who will be in charge of attracting business owners to establish outlets there. The office added that it would not turn the houses into hostels for fear it would affect other hostel operators in the area.
However, local residents were very disappointed about the office’s decision.
“They are houses and it’s a pity that they will not be used as accommodation,” Linsen Borough (林森) Warden Wang Guang-li (王廣禮) said. “Many people would like to know what it’s like to stay in these Japanese-style houses. The office might be worrying too much when they think that this would affect the business of other hostel owners.”