Sun, Dec 03, 2017 - Page 3 News List

Yilan township considers offering artists old homes

By Chang Yi-chen and Jake Chung  /  Staff reporter, with staff writer

A decorated wall along a street in Yilan County’s Dongshan Township is pictured on Nov. 21.

Photo: Chang Yi-chen, Taipei Times

The local economy of Yilan County’s Dongshan Township (冬山) could be revitalized and more tourists brought in if owners of old, vacant houses could be persuaded to rent out their homes for public use, the township office said.

The township office has counted more than 10 houses in the township that are empty and at least 50 years old, Dongshan Township Mayor Hsieh Tsan-hui (謝燦輝) said.

The owners are living overseas or have relocated to other cities and townships, Hsieh said, adding that the office has been considering the possibility of renting the houses.

The township would then invite artists to set up studios in the rented houses or install cultural or creative workshops to attract more tourists, Hsieh said, adding that an increased flow of tourists could also breathe life into the township’s economy.

Most of the buildings are along the township’s Jhongjheng Road and their heights vary from one to three stories tall, Hsieh said, adding that all of the houses retain the stucco exteriors prevalent in the period when they were constructed.

The township office understands that artists setting up workshops in the houses might face considerable difficulties at the beginning and the office is willing to offer a NT$5,000 monthly subsidy to each initial workshop or person willing to rent one of the houses, Hsieh said.

The township office would prioritize attracting chain stores or established brand names to move in first and look for uniquely creative stores local, Hsieh said.

The initiative could not only help repurpose aging homes that have stood vacant and unused — with the added bonus of having renters to take care of the buildings — but would also provide spaces to cultural and creative renters that are less well-off, Hsieh said.

If such an initiative were a success, it would help establish a local economy and support real-estate prices, he added.

The township holds great developmental potential as Dongshan has already seen a steady influx of visitors from the annual Yilan Green Expo in April and May, Hsieh said, adding that the office hopes to attract its first cultural and creative workshops before March next year.

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