Dashilan to be Qianmenized?

By Yin Yeping Source:Global Times Published: 2012-11-9 1:05:05

Historic former department store Beijing Quanyechang pictured Saturday. The store is at the center of a new commercial project in the Dashilan area, Dongcheng district. Photo: Courtesy of Cui Jinze
Historic former department store Beijing Quanyechang pictured Saturday. The store is at the center of a new commercial project in the Dashilan area, Xicheng district. Photo: Courtesy of Cui Jinze


Heritage protection experts have alleged a new development project in the Qianmen area is merely another excuse to have a commercial zone instead of properly preserving the area's historic landscape.

Beijing Municipal Commission of Urban Planning issued a report Wednesday concerning the renovation project in Dashilan, west of Qianmen in Xicheng district.

Former department store, Beijing Quanyechang, which dates from 1923, is at the center of the construction site, with dozens of other historic buildings within the boundary of the 8,000-square-meter project. The four-story building was the largest department store in Beijing in the 1950s. 

The report includes some information about the project and an invitation to receive public feedback.

It said historic buildings will be preserved, and there will be eight new buildings in "neo" historic style. The project will be finished in 2013, reported the Beijing Youth Daily Thursday.

After completion, the area will contain museums, galleries, art workshops, shops and an underground parking lot. 

Zeng Yizhi, an expert in cultural heritage, said that it is ironic the project has now been opened up for public opinion, since it started in early 2012.

"This report should have been issued before the construction started, since there are many historic structures involved," she said.

Cui Jinze, a member of the Chinese Commission for the International Council on Monuments and Sites, has been to the location several times.

Despite the assurances of protection in the report, some historic buildings dating from the early 20th century have already been ruined, he said.

"Beijing Quanyechang consists of one main building and two side buildings, but now the west building is all gone," he said. Cui noted that the building is protected and should not be demolished.

Kong Fanzhi, the director of the Beijing Municipal Administration of Cultural Heritage, told the Global Times that the renovation project was approved last year.

Although there are a number of historic buildings on Langfang Toutiao, the same street as Beijing Quanyechang, Kong said only the former department store is on the national cultural relic protection list. 

"We will fix up Quanyechang in the same way we treat all other protected cultural heritage sites," he said, adding that he and his staff would visit the site Friday, to ensure the renovation is being implemented according to the cultural protection plan for the area.

All the historic buildings within the site should be preserved, said Cui, because they are inside the Dashilan cultural heritage protection area.

"There are dozens of historic buildings to the south of Beijing Quanyechang. These buildings are within the construction site's scope and they will all be demolished to build new ones instead," he said.

The commission of urban planning would not comment Thursday.

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