Taipei Dome gets a green light

DOME DEAL::Committee members were concerned about the profit-driven design of the new complex, saying the developer should devote more space to sport

By Mo Yan-chih  /  Staff Reporter

Fri, May 27, 2011 - Page 2

A review committee yesterday gave conditional approval to the Taipei Dome construction project, paving the way for the construction of the long-stalled building amid ongoing protests by environmental activists who oppose the 500,000m2 commercial complex in downtown Xinyi District (信義).

Taipei City’s Environmental Impact Assessment Review Committee, by a vote of eight to five, approved the project on the condition that the developer reduce the size of the commercial facilities at the complex and increase the number of parking spaces.

The size of the commercial facilities, including a shopping mall, movie theater, hotel and office space, should be cut by 17.4 percent to 202,610m2, while parking space should be increased to 187,965m2, the committee said.

The conditions also included adding another lane to Zhongxiao E Road, presenting a traffic plan that avoids traffic congestion in residential areas along the road and acquiring environmentally friendly building certification.

Committee chair Wu Sheng-chong (吳聖忠), commissioner of the city’s Department of Environmental Protection, said after the three-hour meeting that the developer should meet all the requirements before construction can begin.

The decision put an end to the long-delayed environmental impact assessment for the project.

Committee members expressed concern about the profit-driven design of the complex and said the developer should devote more space to sports, while presenting comprehensive solutions to traffic congestion, among other environmental impacts.

Farglory Group, the developer, signed a contract with the city government in 2005 and planned to invest more than NT$23 billion (US$700 million) in the complex at the abandoned Songshan Tobacco Factory on Zhongxiao E Road, which would include a 40,000-seat indoor stadium.

Tsai Chung-i (蔡宗易), vice president of the group’s public relations department, said the company would estimate the impact of reducing the size of the commercial facilities on future profits, declining to confirm whether the company would continue with the project.

“[The conditional approval] of the Taipei Dome project is good news for the public because Taiwan needs a professional sports venue to host international events,” Tsai said after the meeting at Taipei City Hall. “However, as the contractor, we need to make sure for our shareholders that the operation of the complex is profitable.”

Environmental groups were not satisfied with the outcome.

Taiwan Green Party spokesman Pan Han-shen (潘翰聲) said city officials accounted for seven of the 13 committee members and Pan accused the city government of hijacking the review process.

“The review process and the voting were against procedural justice,” he said.

Farglory should send a revised project plan to the city’s urban development committee for approval, before applying for a construction license if it decides to cooperate with the requirements, the committee said.