What we did well in the past, how we will shape the future

Li Qian
Jing'an District lawmakers and political advisers held their annual meetings to review progress in the year that just ended and discuss the priority policies for the current year. 
Li Qian

This month, Jing’an District lawmakers and political advisers held their annual meetings, called by locals the Two Sessions. The meetings review progress in the year that just ended and discuss the priority policies for the current year. 

Achievements of 2019 

1. Booming commercial hub 

In 2019, Jing’an tax revenue totaled 70.3 billion yuan (US$10.23 billion). The retail market continued strong growth with a 5 percent increase in sales revenue to 780.6 billion yuan. 

Comprehensive commercial complexes, such as Plaza 66, HKRI Taikoo Hui and Jing’an Imix Park, reported increased sales. Of all commercial zones in downtown districts, Jing’an’s Nanjing Road W. ranked the top. 

In September, the Shanghai Commerce Commission designated certain areas of the city as “landmark nightlife areas.” Two are in Jing’an — the Jing’ansi area and the area encompassing Wujiang Road, Zhangyuan Garden and Xintiandi-style Fengshengli. The sites are especially popular with foreign residents and tourists. 

In October, Jing’an opened a pop-up pedestrian-only night street fair as part of efforts to revitalize nightlife without creating the boisterous mayhem of the past. 

The fair was held on Anyi Road, a quiet lane between Changde and Tongren roads. Open only on weekends, the new pop-up night fair proved a hit with the public. 

Wujiang Road, parallel to Nanjing Road, is perhaps one of the most popular backstreets. Formerly just another short alleyway with old residences and grocery shops, it became known in the 1990s as a food street, dotted with barbecue stalls, dumpling shops and other eateries. 

Last year, it was closed for upgrading. Self-service and pop-up stores were added, along with innovative landscaping, including green roofs and graffiti on facades. According to the Jing’an District Commerce Commission, the backstreet will reopen to the public this year. 

What we did well in the past, how we will shape the future
Wang Rongjiang / SHINE

Shoppers enjoy delightful moments at the Fengshengli commercial complex. 

2. Innovation hub 

Jing’an is home to 359 hightechnology companies. Big data remains a major industry, with Jing’an home to the Shanghai Data Exchange, China’s leading big data center that handles an average 30 million pieces of data every day. 

Jing’an has a cluster of companies in the big data industry. Nine of them were selected as official big data suppliers to Shanghai. 

In 2019, the Shanghai Jing’an International Big Data Forum was held in September. An industry fund was created to support businesses involved in big data. 

The district came to be known as Shanghai’s “gray matter” in the pursuit of becoming a “smart city.” The fund was set up in Shibei High Technology Park, home of the Shanghai Data Exchange. The fund offers financial aid to startups and smaller innovative businesses in the industry.

3. New housing 

Last year, thousands of families said good-bye to substandard living conditions. 

In February, people living in Zhangyuan started to move out to make room for a commercial makeover of the Nanjing Road W. area. 

Zhangyuan dates back to 1872, when a British merchant bought a plot of farmland and built garden villas. Later, it became a popular public gathering spot and entertainment venue. In 1919, the property was turned into private residences, and lines of shikumen (stone-gate) buildings appeared. 

In time, the units were partitioned into smaller flats occupied by several families, which led to squalid living conditions. 

The century-old buildings feature different architectural styles, from shikumen to garden villas, with Western Art Deco and traditional Chinese interior designs often seen in one house. But for residents, it has been hard living in small units with shared kitchen and toilets. The relocation of residents will allow the historical buildings to be repaired and renovated. 

Under the plan, all 170 historical structures in Zhangyuan will be retained. They will be turned into showrooms, boutiques, guesthouses and cultural venues. 

As 2019 drew to a close, people living in rundown housing in the Gonghexin Road Subdistrict and the Zhijiang Road W. Subdistrict were the last group of residents to move out. 

These dilapidated neighborhoods cover about 29,247 square meters of wood-and-brick structures. Many of the buildings are jerry-built shelters and shabby bungalows erected before 1949, and often housed three generations under one roof. Privacy was a luxury. In the flood season, residents had to be evacuated to ensure their safety. 

Residents have welcomed relocation. They can either move to designated new housing or receive cash compensation to buy their own homes. 

In 2019, Jing’an installed 21 elevators in old buildings where older residents could no longer navigate staircases. Another 30 elevators are being installed, and 74 applications for elevators are wending their way through the approval process. 

In the Linfen Road Subdistrict, there are 13,000 senior citizens living in buildings without elevators. Their plight became a top local priority last year. Local officials conducted surveys in 17 large residential complexes to determine which could qualify for elevator installation. The application process for residential buildings seeking to install elevators has been simplified, and government subsidies are available to defray some of the cost to individual households.

What we did well in the past, how we will shape the future
Wang Rongjiang / SHINE

The old Zhangyuan community stands in sharp contrast to nearby high rises in downtown Jing’an District. Zhangyuan will be rebuilt under a commercial makeover in the area of Nanjing Road W. 

4. Historical preservation and cultural charm 

In 2019, renovation of the Tianmu Road branch of the Jing’an Library was completed, creating a “cultural gem” on the northern bank of Suzhou Creek. 

The library façade has folding, perforated aluminum panels that create the illusion of rows of books. The middle of the northern façade is a glass wall. Inside, a “shared reading venue” has been created by removing some walls. 

The Hubei Movie Theater was renovated and upgraded. Built in 1986, it was too old and too small to meet contemporary needs. During the renovation, many Art Deco elements from old Shanghai were used in the decor. Special lighting designs imitate the night sky, and unique Shanghai elements like shikumen stone gates were used. New technologies such as Dolby Atmos, which provides a 3D system for audio, were added. 

Former residences of notable historical figures, “red” revolutionary sites, and memorials and galleries were also renovated as part of the campaign to make Jing’an a “borderless” district.

In November, the fortress-like Yuanli Pawnshop, described as the largest and best-preserved pawnshop in Shanghai, reopened to the public as a museum. 

The pawnshop features traditional Anhui-style architectural elements, like black tiles and white walls, and Western elements, including Roman pillars at its front gate, and a doorway decorated with Baroque carvings. 

The largest pawnshop in Shanghai back in the 1940s, the building stored valuable items such as jewelry, paintings and fur coats in a 50-centimeterthick steel vault that required two men to open. 

The pawnshop quietly closed after the war in 1946 and was donated to the country in 1956. Until 2004, it was partitioned into smaller flats occupied by multiple families. 

Renovation  started after residents moved out. The original white and gray walls, facade carvings and interior decorations were retained and restored. Modern electricity and water installations were added. 

A replica of the old pawnshop has been recreated on the first floor, while the history of Shanghai’s financial industry is traced in exhibits on the second and third floors.

What we did well in the past, how we will shape the future
Jiang Xiaowei / SHINE

The Yuanli Pawnshop

What to expect in 2020

1. Housing renovation

Plans call for 210,000 square meters of housing to be renovated. About 2,000 square meters of dilapidated housing with cramped living quarters and inadequate plumbing have individual toilets and kitchens installed. Safety hazards in old structures will be removed.

Also, 50 elevators will be installed in old residential buildings five stories or higher. The lack of elevators has made many senior citizens virtual prisoners in their own homes because they can’t negotiate stairs.

2. Environmental improvement

In 2020, the sides of 30 roads will be upgraded to improve signage and repair cracked buildings. Three major avenues in the district will be overhauled, and 27 roads will be repaired.

Also, 70,000 square meters of parkland, 15,000 square meters of vertical greenery and 2 kilometers of greenbelt will be added across the district, covering roadsides and riversides, neighborhoods and industrial parks.

3. Waterway cleanup

In 2020, the water quality of a 2.6-kilometer section of the Xiachangpu River will be upgraded to a level that nurtures fish and allows people to swim.

A total of 10.4 kilometers along the Dongjiaojing, Pengyuepu and Zoumatang waterways will be further improved.

4. Waste sorting

In 2020, Jing’an will continue to promote waste sorting in 380,000 households. Every day, 500 tons of wet waste will be processed and 300 tons of waste will be recycled.

5. Fire prevention

Jing’an is dotted with old houses, many at high risk of fire. To provide more safety, the district will add and upgrade firefighting equipment in 19 old residential buildings and install equipment in community-based mini-fire stations.

6. Elderly care

In 2020, Jing’an will build a new comprehensive senior-care home and expand another to serve more older residents. The facilities will provide a variety of services, such as daycare, medical treatment and rehabilitation nursing. Cultural activities will also be on offer.

One hundred beds in existing elderly care homes will be upgraded, and three community canteens for seniors will be created.

7. Helping the needy

Jing’an will help 590 jobless young people find employment and support 800 people starting up their own businesses, including 480 university students. Jing’an will build five service stations to provide counselling related to human resources. Also, Jing’an will give training to 450 people in areas of badly needed technical skills.

8. Education

In 2020, 14 new childcare centers for children below the age of 3 will be built. Four kindergartens will open new classes to meet increasing demand following the nation’s relaxation of its one-child policy.

One artificial intelligence lab will be built for junior high school students in the middle section of Jing’an.

Also, 70 new “Love Summer Care” camps for primary school students will be opened during the two-month summer vacation period to relieve the burden on working parents.

9. Medical care

In 2020, Jing’an will add one emergency treatment center. It will expand the outpatient department of the district’s dental clinic and add three new treatment sections. It also will organize six free medical advice centers in communities, including mental health counseling.

10. Cultural access

In 2020, Jing’an will add five reading machines, each of which will provide e-books of nearly 3,000 bestsellers in three years.

An extra 115 QR codes will be developed for historical sites to provide information for visitors via scanning.

Jing’an will provide 200,000 discounted film tickets to the public.

11. Sports facilities

A new public sports field will be built and two existing fields will be renovated. A new jogging and walking path will be built and four others upgraded.

The district will build 24 community-based fitness sites, and 100,000 residents will have low-cost access to swimming pools, badminton courts and other district-owned sports facilities.

Free physical checkups will be provided for 13,000 residents.

12. Food markets

Jing’an will renovate two wet markets, and two sites providing cheap but healthy lunches for white-collar workers will be upgraded. Inedible pork in 35 wet markets and seven food markets will be recycled.

Two Sessions voices

Lawmaker Du Linlin suggested developing a neighborhood multifunctional app to get more residents involved in community affairs.

Lawmaker Ruan Xingxiang suggested that vacated historical buildings be turned into new landmarks.

Lawmaker Feng Lei suggested officials focus on the relationship of people and their environment and people and their communities in urban renewal programs. He also suggested officials be more creative in renovating old blocks.

Lawmaker Wang Lingyun suggested reducing costs for companies and initiating more favorable policies as to attract and keep companies in Jing’an.

Lawmaker Fu Xudong suggested officials promulgate policies to support the lifestyle of professional talent working in foreign companies and provide more services to regional headquarters of multinational companies.

Political advisor Zhu Zhongda suggested the renovation of the Suhe Bay area should combine historical preservation and upgrading of riverside public space.

Political advisor Lu Qi suggested installing alert systems to monitor the throwing of objects from high-rise buildings.

Political advisor Zhang Jie suggested promoting the influence of the Modern Drama Valley to the Yangtze River Delta region and seeking cross-province liaisons.

Political advisor Zhong Ling suggested introducing more world-class e-Sports games as to boost the local development of the gaming genre.

Political advisor Jiang Hong suggested attracting companies based in the Yangtze River Delta to set headquarters in Jing’an.

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