Sat, Apr 04, 2015 - Page 3 News List

Taipei releases blueprint for urban renewal

By Abraham Gerber  /  Staff reporter

The preliminary blueprint for Taipei’s 2050 urban renewal plan was released by the city government yesterday.

A map displayed by the Department of Urban Development detailed areas that would be affected by several city development projects. City plans call for extensive urban renewal projects in the Datong (大同), Wanhua (萬華) and Nangang (南港) districts, as well as development of a “creative industry belt” through the city’s heart along land freed up by moving Taiwan Railways Administration lines underground.

It also calls for the eventual removal of Taipei International Airport (Songshan airport) without outlining a means or timeline for the removal.

Taipei Mayor Ko Wen-je (柯文哲) has made government-initiated urban renewal a centerpiece of his agenda, promising to accelerate the process and rent out 50,000 new public housing units over the next eight years.

The map shows 22 dots representing new public urban renewal projects and 30 dots representing new public housing developments.

In an interview with news Web site BuzzOrange yesterday, Taipei Deputy Mayor Charles Lin (林欽榮) said that “forcefulness” and “inevitability” were the advantages of publicly directed urban renewal.

He said the city would use its eminent domain powers to renovate disadvantaged neighborhoods, such as Nanjichang (南機場) and Siwenli (斯文里), where private developers have been unwilling to take up the challenge of negotiating with thousands of owners of small plots of land.

“The government has the power and duty to direct — as well as the authority to force — urban renewal,” he said.

“We should not be afraid to appropriate land, but an intelligent government also has to look after the interests of residents, providing special relief for any special sacrifices,” he said.

The deputy mayor said his vision for Taipei in 2050 included it becoming “a city with practical social justice in its bones.”

The urban development department also displayed teaser outlines for two possible development plans for the Shezidao (社子島) peninsula in Shilin District (士林).

On Thursday, Ko said that previous city governments had “let down” people living in the area, which has seen new construction forbidden for more than 40 years because of flooding concerns.

One plan calls for preserving the area’s roads and basic layout, while establishing a wetland ecological park and recreating the channel across the peninsula that used to connect the Keelung (基隆) and Tamsui (淡水) rivers.

The other plan calls for the concentrated development of only a portion of the peninsula along with an intersecting network of channels.

Department Commissioner Lin Jou-min (林洲民) has previously suggested that the peninsula could be turned into Taipei’s “Venice” or “Amsterdam.”

Ko has criticized as wasteful and impractical previous city plans that called for bulldozing the peninsula and trucking in 16 million cubic meters of earth to raise it several meters.

In face of peninsula resident protests, he later said that they will be allowed to “choose” whether development plans should be altered.

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