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Former industrial manufacturing site transformed into cultural creative hub

By Zhu Lixin | China Daily | Updated: 2024-07-09 09:24
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The Hechai 1972 Culture and Creativity Industry Park in Hefei, Anhui province, repurposed from an engine production factory, is revitalized with more efficient land use and integrating cultural industries. [Photo provided to China Daily]

In an area where three urban districts converge in Hefei, Anhui, lies the Hechai 1972 Culture and Creativity Industry Park, a complex repurposed from a former factory.

Imbued with the charm of a bygone era, the park symbolizes the city's rich history, having started out as the Hefei Diesel Engine Plant in 1972.

Today, the park is a city landmark and tourist attraction, with visitors surpassing 50,000 per day during national holidays.

The business occupying the factory relocated in May 2018, leaving behind a space that presented a formidable challenge to the local government.

"A systematic spatial inspection by the government revealed glaring inefficiencies plaguing the former factory site," said Chu Zhaohai, director of the Hefei bureau of natural resources and planning.

Spanning 615 hectares, the site comprised the original plant and a shantytown.

"Scattered layouts, unreasonable functionality, incomplete infrastructure, fragmented ownership and extensive land usage combined to create an insurmountable obstacle," said Chu.

Challenges included impasses in land requisition negotiations and sluggish new industry adoption, coupled with deficient infrastructure support.

Obstacles also arose in aligning diverse interests, forging a consensus on reform and integrating innovative policies, hindering the transformative conversion of inefficient land use.

The Hefei authorities decided to streamline development by combining planning, land requisition and industry integration.

Determined to honor the city's heritage while imparting a new lease of life on the land, a plan for an "industrial memory town" was made in 2019 with the overarching vision for cultural development.

The plan has since been lauded for its redevelopment of inefficient tracts of land, and how it has synchronized preservation with renovation to create a new cultural landscape.

Notably, 137 new creative and cultural enterprises covering digital media, graphic design, art exhibitions and more have been seamlessly integrated into the revitalization project.

The park's success is evident in its growing employment opportunities and revenue, said Chu.

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