Fri, Mar 13, 2015 - Page 3 News List

Taipei’s urban renewal time line announced

NO SLUMS:Deputy Mayor Charles Lin said that the new developments would be ‘smart communities’ that integrate public services and use new green technologies

By Abraham Gerber  /  Staff reporter

Taipei Deputy Mayor Charles Lin (林欽榮) yesterday announced a time line for the city government’s urban renewal plans.

Following last week’s announcement that the city would open up MRT housing units for public rental, Lin said that construction on 10 transitional housing sites across the city would begin within a year, with residents of locations targeted for urban renewal beginning to move in by 2018.

Following discussions with residents, construction on urban renewal projects will begin by 2020. After construction is completed, the transitional housing would be converted into permanent public housing units, he said.

Lin cited former Minglun Elementary School (明倫國小) as a future transitional housing site, while Zhongxing Elementary (中興國小) and Zhongyi Elementary (忠義國小) schools have also been cited as future sites in media reports.

Lin called transitional housing key to realizing urban renewal plans that would involve the construction of 20,000 public housing units.

“The big problem faced by urban renewal projects is not just reaching an agreement [with residential owners], but rather how and where to move residents when an agreement has been reached,” Lin said.

Public housing plans have attracted criticism from neighboring residents of the proposed sites over fears that poor-quality construction and low-income neighbors could drag down property prices.

“The public housing developments will not be slums,” Lin said, while acknowledging that the city needs to do more to assure residents.

He said the developments would be “smart communities,” utilizing the latest green technologies and integrating public services, such as daycare centers and libraries.

In addition, the city would require that 1 percent of the construction budget is spent on public art and will also invest to ensure that the tap water is drinkable, he said.

Warden Li-Huang Yu-ken (李黃玉根), whose borough contains Zhongxing Elementary School, said she remains concerned about the city’s plans due to the poor conditions at the Xining (西寧) public housing complex, which is also located in her borough.

While difficulty in gaining the consent of all affected residents has held back previous urban renewal efforts, Taipei Department of Urban Development Renewal Division chief engineer Fang Ting-an (方定安) said the city would bring addition resources to the table to satisfy the needs of the majority of affected residents, adding that the local government — unlike private firms — is free to implement the changes without the unanimous consent of residents.

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