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City to increase pace of resident relocation to new apartments

TOP Shanghai government officials said yesterday the scale of relocation projects and government investment would be increased to move more residents from old and shabby downtown quarters to modern apartments.

The city government has decided to expand the 15-square-kilometer area of the city's major relocation residential bases by another 7 square kilometers.

The current six relocation bases have been completed or are under construction in the city's suburban districts.

The addition in land area translates to between 8 and 10 million square meters of extra apartments for people relocated from shabby downtown houses, officials said.

Mayor Han Zheng yesterday called on district governments and departments to go all out to improve efficiency to renovate shabby downtown quarters.

The project will remain one of the major tasks of local government, Han said, stressing that to improve the lifestyle of people living in poor conditions was of great importance, especially under the current economic situation.

Officials said they had planned to renovate another 1.49 million square meters of housing in the downtown area before the end of next year.

The government will increase its capital investment and play a stronger role in controlling future relocation programs to quicken the outcomes, officials said.

The price of downtown real estate has increased since this round of housing improvements started three years ago.

Residents in targeted downtown quarters are asking for higher relocation compensation with cash, a new house or a combination package.

Private real estate companies were accordingly dragging their feet on the projects, claiming shrinking profit projections from developing the old quarters, a government official said.

Officials said the government would only select state-owned construction companies with the best reputation and record to build all the planned relocation bases.

Mayor Han also urged local authorities to improve bus transit, rail links, hospitals, schools and other facilities at the new centers to improve residents' quality of life.

Some relocated families had been unwilling to move to the suburbs because of a lack of transport and other services compared to downtown blocks, necessitating lengthy negotiations for cash compensation.

Nearly 1.2 million households have been relocated by the government from over 70 million square meters of shabby downtown housing blocks since 1990.


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