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Taichung Mayor Lin Chia-lung Suspends Plan for the City’s Tallest Business Building

Taichung Mayor Lin Chia-lung (林佳龍) decided to suspend the Taiwan Tower project, which was planned to be the tallest business building in the city, on Jan. 19 due to concerns of safety and budgets.

The project was fist introduced by former mayor Jason Hu (胡志強), while the former Shui-nan Airport was relocated and the land was handed over to the Taichung City Government in 2010. The tower was planned to be 318 meters tall for tourism, broadcasting, restaurant and related business purposes.

The budget for the project, however, has been ballooning from the original US$253 million to US$250 million to US$470 million. Lin said that “the budget has surged to a level that is not in line with the Taichung City Council’s resolution.”

Lin said the Taiwan Tower, a major project pushed by the former three-term mayor Hu, is problematic in terms of its design, structural complexity and safety. He also said that he will organize a special team to review it and come up with a possible replacement plan.

“Making a wrong decision is even worse than corruption,” Lin said.

The new mayor who just took oath of his office in the end of last year said that he would rather pay the penalty for breaking the contract than pay the US$470 million to build the tower. Lin said that the losses caused by the suspension and compensation payments will be approximately US$9.3 million.

The Taiwan Tower project was an idea that was proposed and campaigned by Hu, who served as Taichung mayor between 2001 and 2014, when it was a provincial city, until Dec. 25, 2014. Hu was hoping for the over-300-meter tall building to be a landmark for the city after its upgrade to a special municipality in 2010.

Designed by Japanese architect Sou Fujimoto, who won an international competition in 2011 to draw up plans for the building, Taiwan Tower’s ornate steel structure was inspired by the trunk of a banyan tree. The tower was planned on a lot of 4.4 hectares and billed as “the Taiwanese version of the Eiffel Tower.”

If completed, it would be home to an observation platform, restaurants and environmental quality monitoring stations, according to Hu’s plan.