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July 28, 2012

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Home » Metro » Entertainment and Culture

80-year-old cinema may be bulldozed

AN 80-year-old Shanghai cinema designed by renowned Hungarian architect Laszlo Hudec is set to be torn down for a new cultural square according to the plans of a local real estate company, stirring protests from locals.

The Zhejiang Cinema on downtown Zhejiang Road M. near People's Square in Huangpu District is to be removed and replaced by a new cultural venue for the planned square, according to an official with Jinfu, the company that bought land area that includes the cinema.

"The building is old and its function is unnecessary because there are many modern cinemas in the surrounding area," an assistant of the company boss Hu Zhijun told Shanghai Daily yesterday.

While a final approval needed by the company has not yet been granted, a government official said the structure of the cinema has been changed too much to merit saving.

The cinema was built in the 1930s and was designed by Hudec, along with three other cinemas, including the Grand Cinema on Nanjing Road W., which is considered a masterpiece.

The rosy facade of Zhejiang Cinema stands out from a row of Shikumen or traditional stone gate-style buildings.

Delicate carvings can still be seen on the stairs in the hallway of the building.

The cinema still has an auditorium that can serve 340 people, said the deputy manager of the cinema, surnamed Li. She said the cinema mainly opens to senior citizen audiences now.

The property rights of the cinema belong to Jinfu, which can demolish the building if the demolish plan is approved, said Huang Qing, deputy director of the construction management department of the Bureau of Planning and Land Resources of Huangpu District.

"The cinema failed to be listed as protected historic building by the city's historic building protection authority, so the company has the right to remove it for future construction," Huang said yesterday.

However, Huang said the company's plan needs final approval from the bureau that will take the public opinions into consideration.

The company's final plan has yet to be submitted to the bureau.

The bureau will solicit opinions from both residents and experts to decide whether to approve the plan for the cinema, Huang added.

The company's removal plan was widely protested by local residents, especially those living near the old cinema, after the plan was publicized yesterday on Weibo.

Some suggested renovating the old cinema into a film museum or venue for older films.

The cinema building has been changed too much from its original looks both inside and out through hundreds of renovations, so the historic authority did not list it among protected historic buildings, said Li Kongsan, an official with the Shanghai Cultural Relics Management Commission.

Li said few valuable historic elements remain on the current building.


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