Shanghai's old residential communities to be revamped by July-end
Shanghai will finish renovating all massive derelict neighborhoods citywide by the end of July, wrapping up an over three-decade campaign to improve residents' living conditions.
The city had the last remaining 11,000 households living in dilapidated lane-style communities, covering about 200,000 square meters in Hongkou and Huangpu districts by the end of 2021.
These old houses below the "level-two" standard were scheduled to be renovated, or residents relocated, by the end of April, but the plan was delayed by the city's COVID-19 pandemic resurgence in early March.
With the pandemic waning in June, the last chapter of the city's campaign of Jiugai, or renovation on old houses, is being accelerated and will be completed by the end of this month, Yao Kai, director of the city's Housing and Urban-Rural Development Commission, announced.
"All large-scale dilapidated residential houses in downtown will be revamped by then under the campaign that has lasted for 30 years," Yao said in an interview with Shanghai Radio Station on Thursday.
In the 1980s, most Shanghai residents lived in cramped quarters provided by employers. Life was described as "rites within a snail's shell," an expression paying tribute to how Shanghai people could perform the most complicated operations in the most inadequate of spaces.
The average per-capita living space was 4.5 square meters, among the lowest in China.
The city launched the Jiugai campaign in the early 1990s, which has since become the primary solution to improve living conditions, remove shantytowns and redevelop the region to help spur the city's economic growth.
Residents have a choice of moving to designated housing on the outskirts of the city, or purchasing their own property with subsidies from the government. Many structures have been preserved to restore the city's traditional ambiance.
In addition, 54 "urban villages," or the communities with a large proportion of rustic houses, are also under renovation. More than 30,000 households of residents or villagers will benefit. Most of the projects tucked away around the city's Outer Ring Road and old towns will be bulldozed and redeveloped.
Apart from renovating the old houses, the housing authority also plans to further improve the environment and services for public areas along the Huangpu River and the Suzhou Creek this year, according to Yao.
Cruise ships, for instance, will sail along the downtown section of the Suzhou Creek by the end of 2022, enabling both residents and tourists to enjoy riverside scenery while learning about the city's culture and history.
A batch of new culture and sports facilities, including an equestrian center, a water sports center and several sports parks, will be developed along both the creek and the river.
The creek has been a backdrop to some dramatic events in the city's history since Shanghai was opened as a treaty port in 1843. It was the scene of much wartime suffering and also the birthplace of China's earliest national industries.