After 2 months of closure, Construction is done in NanLuoGu Xiang

Nanluoguxiang-closed-to-tour-groups1

 

The NanLuoGu Xiang project that the Chinese government wanted to bring up to standards is done. The changes began 5 months ago, in October at the beginning for a repaving; but local merchants told us 4 months ago that the Beijing municipality wanted in reality to bring the street architecture up to ancient times, during Qing Dynasty (1644-1912) when the street was one of the most powerful place in Beijing due to the Forbidden city proximity.

Despite a Beijing News report claiming that almost one in three businesses have been shuttered on the popular shopping street, NanLuoGu Xiang remains crowded and tacky. According to local media sources, the number of businesses has been remained to 154 compare to 235 six months earlier due to the increase of surface shops area and because of exorbitant rents charged by area landlords (many of the smaller outlets are gone or have been consolidated with their neighbours). Some of the businesses have changed or have closed.

We have met a shop owner to understand how that decision have been made and what are the consequences for retailers.

Interview with Jean-Baptiste AUDRAN from Crêpanini

Jean Baptiste AUDRAN is the Crêpanini founder; a French café chain which serves savory crepes, panini, sandwiches and sweet crepes, waffles, ice-cream, macarons and others sweet desserts and hot or cold drinks.

Long-term planned work

“We had been aware for nearly a year that NLGX would have to be renovated for security and architecture reasons, but we were informed only in early October by the authorities that we would have to close for a few weeks or even months.”

What were the main reasons?

“The authorities have been very clear about what they want for NLGX “give a genuine Chinese dimension with more traditional facades as they have already been realized in Qianmen”, and they want to make the street more upscale with less food shops but more upscale souvenirs Handicraft and cultural objects …) At the same time, the authorities have closed many illegal shops.

The information was very difficult to sort because we had several departments involved in the works management and in the street restoration . So we had several versions regarding the duration of the work and the rules to respect for each store. “

What impacts for businesses?

“The work lasted two months, obviously we were very affected because our landlord did not make any reduction in rent and we not only lost the amount of our rent but also had to pay our employees for two months.”

What changes have you seen since the rehabilitation of NLGX?496153610815128057
 

“The look of the street is more friendly and the ground is less dangerous. The work is a real success, but especially closing illegal shops and limiting restoration not respecting the rules of hygiene was a very good idea of the government’s share. ” (Picture provided by Mr Audran showing what had to be transformed)

Have you noticed a decline in affluence since its reopening?

“It’s still hard to say because we reopened during the Chunjie holiday peak, but I think it should be difficult to get as much traffic as in early 2016 because NLGX is no longer a 5 * on the tourist guides for almost a year. It does not matter as it will make the street even more intimist if there are a few people.”`

Why one third of businesses have closed?310651068481825893

“They did not respect (the restaurants) the rules of hygiene and then many of them were illegal and therefore did not pay any taxes, and the government wants to limit the number of restaurants on the street. They want less junk-food restaurants.

The authorities clearly want to clean the streets of illegal shops and make the city more attractive and lovely. I think that their intentions are legitimate and certainly necessary for sustainable development. It is therefore difficult to survive for some companies that have always worked illegally, but it is very encouraging for those who have always applied themselves to follow the rules! It’s a good thing to improve mentalities in a respectful manner. “

Are the building works actually completed

“The works have fallen behind because some stores have not had enough time to finish their work before the holidays, and the street should be finished by the end of February.”

Sources

http://www.bjnews.com.cn/feature/2017/01/30/432051.html

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