Tue, Sep 30, 2014 - Page 3 News List

Former Taipei brothel safe from gentrification project

SYMBOL OF RESISTANCE:The building, now used by a collective promoting the rights of sex workers and a designated historic site, was bought by a speculator

By Abraham Gerber  /  Staff reporter

The Wenmeng Building (文萌樓), a former brothel in Taipei’s Datong District (大同), is not set to be included in urban renewal plans, the city government’s Department of Urban Development said yesterday.

The building is a symbol of the resistance to the city’s moves to abolish prostitution in the 1990s.

It was designated a historic site in 2006, but has remained in private hands. Its inclusion within city renewal plans is controversial, leading to concerns among civic groups over the building’s preservation.

Chung Chun-chu (鍾君竺), executive director of the Collective of Sex Workers and Supporters, said that after the building was included within city renewal plans it was purchased by a “speculator” who sought profit by selling the building for inclusion within a larger complex.

The owner has sought to expel the collective, which is headquartered in the building.

Department Commissioner Pien Tai-ming (邊泰明) said that although Wenmeng Building is a historic site and was never in danger of demolition, its removal from city renewal plans will make execution of the renewal plans simpler.

Chung called on Taipei’s Department of Cultural Affairs to requisition the building.

The present owner’s proposal to maintain the site is less than two pages long, said Lin Chang-chieh (林長杰), a division head at the cultural affairs department. He said the owner has since refused to respond to requests for elaboration.

If the owner’s maintenance proposal is rejected, the cultural affairs department could consider requisitioning the building, Lin said.

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