Wed, Apr 22, 2015 - Page 4 News List

Groups propose plan to use Jiahe New Village site for disadvantaged, elderly

By Lii Wen  /  Staff reporter

Cultural heritage groups yesterday proposed a plan to use historical architecture for social welfare facilities and public housing amid controversy over redevelopment plans for Jiahe New Village (嘉禾新村) — a recently vacated housing area for military dependents near Taipei’s Gongguang area (公館) in Zhongzheng District (中正).

The proposal was made during a public hearing hosted by Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) Taipei city councilors Lee Ching-feng (李慶鋒) and Rosalia Wu (吳思瑤).

Jiahe Studio spokesperson Yu Liang-kuei (郁良溎) said that the village could provide public housing and social welfare facilities for disadvantaged groups.

He said that medical and academic institutions nearby made the village ideal for a public housing program for disabled and elderly people.

Yu said that the plan could use resources from Tri-Service General Hospital, as well as National Taiwan University’s Department of Social Work and Rehabilitation Engineering Research Center, which conducts research on prosthetic limbs and orthotic devices.

The proposal marked a break from past cases concerning the use of historic architecture, which mainly focused on tourism or cultural industries.

Academia Sinica researcher Chang Mao-kuei (張茂桂) said the new proposal displayed continuity with the original purpose of military dependents’ villages, as such places could be considered a type of public housing focused on providing care and services to military personnel.

He said that earlier examples of revamped housing areas designated for military dependents often resorted to “fads” and lacked thorough consideration.

Built upon the former site of a Japanese artillery compound, Jiahe New Village was constructed mostly in the 1950s to provide accommodation for military personnel who arrived from China after the Chinese Nationalist Party’s (KMT) defeat in the Chinese Civil War.

Earlier plans to tear down the village and construct a large park elicited mixed reactions, leading to clashes between cultural preservation groups and local landowners, who supported plans for the government to expropriate the land.

A cultural heritage evaluation meeting organized by the Department of Cultural Affairs is to take place on Friday, following an inspection of the village’s cultural assets by city-appointed inspectors.

The village could be demolished if the committee fails to designate the community as a cultural landscape at Friday’s meeting.

Given the broad scope of the case, Lee said that a special task force led by a deputy mayor should be established to ensure adequate authority while implementing new proposals.

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