Sat, May 25, 2013 - Page 4 News List

Mayor pledges to release documents

CULTURE CONFLICT:Taipei Mayor Hau Lung-bin said the documents show that Novel Hall is public property that should be maintained as a cultural space for locals

By Mo Yan-chih  /  Staff reporter

Taipei Mayor Hau Lung-bin (郝龍斌) yesterday promised to release documents on a deal with the China Trust Financial Group within one week in the latest move to preserve Novel Hall in the city’s Xinyi District (信義).

As part of the deal, the city government had allowed the company to raise the height of its headquarters building from 45m to 85m 16 years ago after it promised to build the theater to promote arts and culture in the city.

Amid the group’s recent plans to move its headquarters to Nangang District (南港) and sell the land in Xinyi, Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) Taipei City councilors Wu Su-yao (吳思瑤) and Liang Wen-chieh (梁文傑) yesterday joined artists and cultural figures in calling for the preservation of the theater.

“The preservation of Novel Hall is a cultural issue, not a property sale. I am not satisfied with the Ministry of Culture’s passiveness. The city government should make every effort to save the venue,” Wu said during a question-and-answer session in the Taipei City Council.

Both she and Liang said the city government should make public the written documents it had signed with the group regarding the deal and demanded that the group keep its promise.

In response, Hau insisted that the deal made Novel Hall public property, and said the city government would present written documents within a week to remind the company of its promise.

“Our stance on preserving Novel Hall as a cultural space for the public will not change,” he said.

Taipei Deputy Mayor Chang Chin-oh (張金鶚) said the Department of Urban Development would not agree to the group’s request to repurpose the land or to demolish the theater as part of a reconstruction project.

Taipei City’s Department of Cultural Affairs said it would conduct a cultural asset evaluation of the theater and would participate in negotiations organized by the Ministry of Culture in a bid to ensure the preservation of the venue.

Novel Hall underwent a multimillion-dollar overhaul of its facilities in September last year. It has been described as the best medium-sized theater in the nation.

The land that houses the group’s headquarters and the venue is estimated to be worth about NT$25 billion (US$836 million).

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