Massive renewal project launched for city's iconic Yuyuan Garden Malls
Qiu Xianjun never imagined his decrepit house in Shanghai's old town would become part of the landmark Yuyuan Garden Malls, a popular site that attracts millions of visitors from home and abroad every year.
The 40-year-old community worker and resident of the Fuyou Road community was born, raised and works in the more than 100-year-old, lane-style neighborhood. He is used to living in the shadow of the Bund Financial Center skyscraper amidst the large flocks of people heading for Yuyuan Garden.
Thanks to the city's relocation campaign, Qiu and 5,600 other households in the neighborhood have moved out of their dilapidated houses to modern residential communities.
One of the last remaining lane-style neighborhoods in the city will be preserved and become part of Yuyuan Garden's expansion plan.
Dining and shopping venues near Yuyuan Garden are located where a prosperous temple fair market around the City God Temple and drill ground during the Ming Dynasty (1368-1644) once stood.
Yuyuan Garden will undergo the biggest expansion in its more than 460-year history by connecting the nearby lane-style neighborhood with the Bund Financial Center, the Huangpu District government said on Friday.
The district government publicized the protective redevelopment plan for the Fuyou block, which will be jointly developed and operated by Yuyuan Inc. and the Ant Group.
The extended "Greater Yuyuan Garden Malls" will have a total construction area of one million square meters, tenfold of th current commercial facilities.
It will become a global fashion and culture showground with an "oriental aesthetics of living" theme, blending east and west as well as old and new, according to the blueprint.
As a demonstration of Shanghai's urban renewal campaign, old residential neighborhoods, which include many historical local residences, such as shikumen, or stone-gate houses, will be mostly preserved and converted into stores for time-honored and international brands, fashion designer studios and innovative workshops as well as exhibition and cultural exchange spaces.
It will link up the Bund Financial Center and the current Yuyuan Garden Malls to become a super culture and commercial complex neighboring the Huaihai Road commercial area and Xintiandi commercial hub, said Ni Qiang, president of Yuyuan Inc.
"Through the expansion project, the city's historical residential houses will be well protected, while traffic problems in old town, including a shortage of parking spaces, will be solved," said Ni.
In 1559, Pan Yunduan (1526-1601), a high-level Ming Dynasty government official, initiated the construction of Yuyuan Garden as a gift to his parents, which took more than 60 years. Much of the garden's design is attributed to the renowned landscape architect, Zhang Nanyang (1517-1596).
Over the past four centuries, businessmen and residents have gathered around the landmark garden as well as the iconic Zigzag Bridge and Mid-Lake Pavilion, developing the area into a prosperous marketplace and the origin of the city's old town.
In 1994, the malls around the historic garden underwent a major expansion from 18,000 square meters to the current 100,000 square meters.
A number of Shanghai's time-honored brands and eateries, such as the gold and jewelry brands Laomiao and First Asia, Shanghai Watch and Seagull Watch as well as Lu Bo Lang Restaurant were opened and developed in the malls.
Many listed "intangible cultural heritages" like the annual lantern fair, Xiaojiaochang (literally meaning "small drill ground") woodblock prints and Shanghai cuisine cooking skills are also protected and promoted there.
However, with the city's rapid urban development, the malls' limited space cannot meet the rising consumption demand of locals and tourists, said Ni.
The Bund Financial Center, Huaihai Road and Xintiandi have also been long isolated from the malls.
The district government initiated the Greater Yuyuan project in July to significantly boost the commercial standard and atmosphere of the downtown region.
According to the blueprint, the current Yuyuan Malls will focus on traditional cultures of Jiangnan (regions in the lower reaches of the Yangtze River), while the Fuyou Road project will feature a mixture of traditional Chinese and Western cultures with pubs, hotels and recreational facilities.
About 120,000 square meters of old residential buildings in the Fuyou Road community will be preserved. They include Shi Chun Tang at 137 Wutong Road, the former family residence of the Ming cadre Pan, which was later converted into a Catholic church and library. The Ming-dynasty building includes many Western ornaments on its window and door frames.
The former residence of Ming Dynasty intellectual Lu Shen (1477-1544) at 66 Lujiazhai Road will also be renovated to restore its original look, along with a row of century-old buildings owned by the traditional Chinese medicine pharmacy Tonghanchun Tang as well as jewelry makers Renji and Lao Qingyunlou.
To improve traffic in old town, the expansion project will fully develop and take advantage of the underground space beneath the Fuyou block, according to the district.
244,500 square meters of underground space will be developed into three parking levels with about 2,500 parking spots to make up for the parking shortage in the area.
Bus terminals and taxi hailing sites will be moved underground and connect with subway stations for the convenience of residents, employees, consumers and tourists.
A major central greenbelt has also been planned for the Greater Yuyuan. The "Blue and Green Silk Belt" along Fangbang Road M., which was a creek in the region until 1910, will feature greenery and ponds to create an eco-friendly and low-carbon community.
The Fuyou community was built in the 1910s by foreign missionaries and wealthy businessmen. A group of shikumen houses were built for senior church clerks and business owners, while smaller houses were built nearby to accommodate ordinary staff and servants.
The buildings were later divided into multiple cramped households.
"I'm happy to get rid of chamber pots, but I'll miss the convenient central location," Qiu said. "I'm looking forward to revisiting my refurbished house after the completion of the project."