By Lee I-chia / Staff reporter
Taipei must do more to encourage urban renewal, as it has about 600,000 residential units that are more than 30 years old, but only about 36,000 have been put into urban renewal projects, Taipei Mayor Ko Wen-je （柯文哲） said yesterday at a forum held by the Taipei Department of Urban Development.
Participants in the forum held a moment of silence in tribute to the victims of last Tuesday’s magnitude 6.0 earthquake in Hualien, which killed 16 people, injured 285 and left one person missing.
Although many people are concerned about the effects of a major earthquake on buildings and related urban renewal issues, the forum did not aim to focus on disaster prevention, but on effective urban renewal policy, Ko said.
The city government in 2010 initiated a special project aimed at renewing old four-story or five-story apartment buildings by allowing the property owners to exchange “one ping” [3.3m2] for one ping” of a renewed building, but as of 2015, only three of 79 project applications had been approved and were under way, which indicated that the city’s policies needed to be overhauled, he said.
“The urban renewal policy has to change drastically, or else it would take more than 1,000 years to finish,” he said.
Urban renewal projects in Yongchun Community （永春） and Datong District’s （大同） Siwen Borough （斯文） are important milestones of the city’s urban renewal efforts, he said.
However, the two cases were complicated, and the Yongchun Community project was stalled for 16 years, although construction there was expected to resume this week, while the Siwen project is expected to begin in May, the mayor said.
Property owners who are unwilling to participate in urban renewal projects is a national problem, but the old apartments should be entered into the process as soon as possible, hopefully within the next 10 years, he said.
In the meantime, the city will promote the importance of urban renewal in improving disaster prevention, he said.
Taipei Mayor Ko Wen-je speaks at the Urban Renewal Forum in Taipei yesterday. Photo: Liu Hsin-de, Taipei Times
Front row from left, Taipei Mayor Ko Wen-je, Minister Without Portfolio Chang Ching-sen, Taipei Deputy Major Charles Lin and other officials yesterday bow during a minute’s silence at the Urban Renewal Forum in Taipei in honor of those killed in the Hualien earthquake last week. Photo: Liu Hsin-de, Taipei Times