The Chiayi City Government’s plan to demolish an old city hall and auction the site has drawn criticism due to the historical value of the building.
The city government said the old city hall is scheduled for demolition next month and it expects to auction the 1,360 ping (4,496m2) plot by the end of December.
The land sale is expected to add about NT$1 billion (US$31.8 million) to the government’s coffers.
Photo: Ting Wei-chieh, Taipei Times
The city government said it held five auctions for the plot since 2003, but was unable to attract bids.
To invite qualified tenders, the government has been demolishing illegal structures and banning unlicensed stalls around the old city hall.
However, local historians said that renovating the hall for public use would be more valuable than the proposed demolition and land sale, with some artists and literati calling on the government to convert the building into a museum.
Chiayi City Councilor Tsai Yung-chuan (蔡永泉) said the old city hall used to be the seat of the city council, the city office and a household registration office, which houses a collection of artifacts.
“The government should inventory those artifacts and keep at least a 20-ping space as a symbol of history rather than tearing down the whole structure and selling the plot in its entirety, which amounts to the erasure of history,” Tsai said.
Taoshan Salon founder Lin Jui-hsia (林瑞霞) said innovative construction and interior design could embed the remains of the old city hall into the new building.
Chiayi City Councilor Chang Jung-tsang (張榮藏) said that the government put forward a revised development project of the site in April last year, which has been mothballed in the city council due to last November’s nine-in-one elections.
After a city government reshuffle following the elections, the demolition of the old city hall was contracted without a resubmission of the development project to the council, which Chang said was a scheme to force the project through before it goes through due process.
Built in 1954, the building was the city office of then-Chiayi City — a county municipality — and later became the city hall when the city was upgraded to a provincial municipality in 1982, the city government said.
It said the building is featured in the film Where the Wind Settles (風中家族), which recreates the aura of a former age with the building’s vintage interior typical of government offices of the time.
The building has remained empty since the city government moved its headquarter to a now-demolished city hall in the city’s East District (東區) in 1998 and part of the old city hall site has been converted into a parking lot, the city government said.
It said that the proposed auction aims to boost land utilization and local business, adding that all artifacts with historical value would be preserved.
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