The planned Taoyuan Aerotropolis project in Taoyuan County’s Dayuan Township (大園) has raised concerns among residents over its promised economic benefits, after it received lukewarm responses from investors while fueling land speculation and driving up property prices.
According to a local real-estate agent, who spoke on condition of anonymity, the 6,150 hectare development project has turned Dayuan from a relatively poor part of the county into its wealthiest township.
“Dayuan is now home to more than 1,000 billionaires, the highest number of any township and borough in Taiwan,” he said.
“In addition, the price of land surrounding the Aerotropolis has soared 25-fold from NT$4,000 per ping (3.3m2) to NT$100,000 over the past few years, while property sales during the same period amounted to NT$230 billion [US7.67 billion],” he said.
The Taoyuan Aerotropolis is one of eight areas to be designated as free-trade zones by the government as part of its plans to establish “free economic pilot zones.”
The government is expected to invest NT$321.225 billion in the development project, which aims to transform Taiwan Taoyuan International Airport and its surrounding areas into a global transportation and logistics hub by 2030.
However, the project has been an issue of contention since the Executive Yuan launched it in September last year, mainly because it requires the expropriation of 3,316 hectares of land and the demolition of 15,510 houses, affecting 46,500 residents.
Real-estate investors have long shunned lands in the township because buildings near the airport would be subjected not only to serious noise pollution, but also to stringent height limits, the agent said.
“However, property prices began to climb after the Ministry of Transportation and Communications announced its plan to construct a third terminal and runway at the airport [in 2011.] The upward trend became even more noticeable after the launch of the Taoyuan Aerotropolis project last year,” he said.
The agent added that the price of farmland in townships surrounding Dayuan has also rocketed due to the development project, attributing farmland speculation to the flawed regulations governing sales of such land.
“Owners of farmland wishing to sell their land are only required to obtain a certificate of agricultural use of such land, and because sales of farmland are exempt from value-added tax or luxury tax, land speculators may sell and re-sell the land several times within a year, he said.
However, in stark contrast to the red-hot real-estate market in the county, the government’s plan to attract NT$60 billion in private-sector investment for the Aerotropolis project has so far been met with lukewarm responses from investors, the agent said.