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October 25, 2012

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Home » Metro » Entertainment and Culture

New scheme to save old buildings

SHANGHAI will allow local governments or state-owned enterprises to buy valuable historic buildings as a new way to protect the structures, many of which are in poor condition.

The initiative means the government can allocate some of the money to relocate residents living inside, a major barrier in protecting historic buildings, the Shanghai Housing Management Bureau said yesterday.

The city has 2,138 historic buildings but many are not protected because they are used as homes.

"Most cannot be listed as protected cultural relics because they are not old enough to qualify, but they are still worth preserving," an official with the bureau said.

In the past, once a building made the protected list, residents living inside could be relocated with government funds and the structure could be preserved.

With the new initiative, district and county governments can report historic buildings that fail to get listed as cultural relics. The bureau will then investigate and decide whether it's worth it for governments or state-owned enterprises to purchase and protect such buildings.

The governments or enterprises can then auction the usage rights to these buildings, provided they are protected properly, to collect money and compensate former residents who lived in them.

Funds from usage rights can also be used to improve the surrounding environment, the bureau added.

About 57 percent of the city's historic buildings are not protected, said Wang Anshi, an architect and member of the city's historic building protection committee.

"Most of the old buildings are badly damaged because many families have lived in them for years and they are usually wooden structures," Wang said.

For example, the three buildings of the former Shanghai Art Academy in Huangpu District have deteriorated into shabby homes during the past 60 years as more than 40 families live in the structures.


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