Highly-anticipated redevelopment work commences in downtown Shanghai

Li Qian
Redevelopment work at Fangua Long and Zhongxing community has begun in earnest in downtown Shanghai.
Li Qian
Highly-anticipated redevelopment work commences in downtown Shanghai
Jiang Xiaowei

Construction begins at Fangua Long earlier this month.

Construction has begun on the highly-anticipated Fangua Long, one of the biggest urban revitalization projects in downtown Shanghai this year.

The 1.36-billion-yuan (US$190 million) project spans around 26,000 square meters and extends east to Gonghexin Road, south to Tianmu Road M., west to Datong Road, and north to the Fangua Long Primary School.

It was once one of the most prosperous areas in the former Zhabei District in the 1920s. The completion of the railway station in 1909 brought a flood of businesses. Heavy shelling destroyed it during the war.

In the 1940s, it had turned into a densely populated slum, teeming with people fleeing the war. Most people lived in shanty huts and hovels made of bamboo, straw and mud, with no running water, toilet, drainage, or other amenities.

In 1947, the area produced a super-sized pumpkin known as fangua by locals, giving rise to the name Fangua Long, which translates as “pumpkin lane neighborhood.”

In 1966, the run-down shelters were converted into multi-storey residences with contemporary amenities such as running water, electricity and gas. Banks, bookstores, restaurants, hair salons and other support services also slowly popped up.

However, the neighborhood steadily deteriorated, with crumbling walls and leaky ceilings. Neighbors frequently fought over shared restrooms and kitchens. In addition, illegally constructed shelters posed significant safety issues.

Jing’an decided to renovate the neighborhood to improve the living conditions of the locals.

Residents welcomed the decision. Within 49 days, all 1,122 households had signed a renewal agreement and moved out within 30 days. Construction officially began on November 12.

Six modern apartment complexes will replace the 14 dilapidated buildings, each featuring its own kitchen, toilet and balcony. There will be two-storey subterranean parking, a big courtyard garden in the center and other lifestyle amenities.

Residents are expected to return three to four years after the completion of the project.

Highly-anticipated redevelopment work commences in downtown Shanghai

An artist’s rendition of the Fangua Long neighbhohood after revitalization

Construction on another significant urban renewal project also began on the same day.

The Zhongxing community project extends east to Dongbaoxing Road, south to Baotong Apartment and Changzheng Building, west to Baotong Road, and north to Tiantong’an Road.

It will have two office buildings, three residential buildings and one rental apartment tower, with total investment exceeding 7 billion yuan.

Several old structures will be maintained and refurbished to serve modern purposes.

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