A Present building at No.2, Lane 201, Duolun Road. [baidu.com]
Visitors to Huoshan Road in Shanghai's old Jewish community may soon feel as though they've been transported back to the 1930s.
The 600-meter-long Hongkou District street is being converted into Baroque-style sightseeing area. Planners aim to develop cafes and other leisure facilities in a style reminiscent of the years when Shanghai was home to 20,000 European Jews who found safe haven here prior to World War II.
Local government officials said the renovation project will cost 5 million yuan (US$602,409) and is scheduled to finish early next month.
The past 70 years have brought great changes to the area, according to Li Aiwu, director of the Tilanqiao Sub-district Urban Management Department.
The major challenges are interior and exterior damage and illegal balcony additions that have destroyed the area's former appearance.
"Some residents made renovations to their residences by replacing the original wooden material with aluminum," he said.
There's also conflict between residents and restaurant owners whose first-floor kitchens cause smoke damage to the apartments upstairs.
Even more serious is the fire threat. The latest blaze, on October 17, caused more than 10 families to flee their homes for the night. Local government said one solution is to change the nature of the businesses.
"All the restaurants will be converted into leisure venues such as coffee shops or snack bars," an official said.