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Old neighborhood regains livability and vitality after renewal

By Zhang Wenfang | chinadaily.com.cn | Updated: 2023-04-24 12:55

Xiaoxihu block, once a run-down area in Nanjing, Jiangsu province, housed 810 families in an area of 46,900 square meters. Life there was inconvenient due to narrow roads, old buildings with no kitchen and bathroom, and poor access to utilities such as water, gas, electricity, and internet.

However, with a history of over 600 years, the Xiaoxihu neighborhood had abundant historical remains, and many residents were attached to their ancestral houses and the memories of several generations.

After several rounds of surveys and consultations, the local government adopted a new approach to improve living conditions while preserving the historical elements. In 2019, the renovation project broke ground.

The developer first improved water, electricity, internet, and gas access with a utility tunnel that fits the narrow roads. The residents were given options of remaining in their homes or moving elsewhere. Those who chose to leave could rent their old houses to the construction company for commercial purposes after renovation, while those who stayed would be offered a specialized renovation plan based on the house's practical conditions, usually including adding a kitchen and a bathroom.

With more empty rooms and space, coffee shops, homestays, libraries, restaurants, and other kinds of businesses have opened up. A cultural square with a stage has been built, and more public spaces have appeared.

To date, 402 households still live in the community, but their lives have become much more comfortable. The neighborhood has become more organized and attractive, and they are both residents and consumers of the community businesses.

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