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Taiwan Tower will help pay gov't debt with shopping, tourism: Hu

TAIPEI, Taiwan -- Currently under construction, the Taiwan Tower may bring Taichung tens of billions of New Taiwan dollars after its completion, said Taichung Mayor Jason Hu (胡志強) yesterday.

An estimated NT$6 billion is required to build this landmark of the Shuinan Economic and Trade Park; Hu had staunchly defended the construction project some three years ago when many voiced skepticism over the park's economic benefits.

Not only would the project boost Taichung's tourism, it would also make a chip in government debt, said Hu.

Taichung's Urban Development Bureau (UDB) Director Mu Gui-xing (沐桂新) delivered a report on the tower's construction progress yesterday, pointing out that the tower's retaining columns are expected to be finished by the end of 2014 while the construction of the main building is slated for January 2015. The 313.9-meter-high tower will include a museum, restaurants and a number of stores to attract visitors, said Mu.

The UDB has estimated that the tower will draw roughly 56.5 million visitors each year, a number that will in turn bring commercial opportunities of NT$10 billion for the surrounding businesses.

Three searchlights will be projected into the sky before the construction is finished and represent the hope that the tower will bring, said Mu.

According to Mu, the tower will be operated by an “Operation Transfer (OT)” model, meaning that the city may be receiving as much as NT$100 million in royalties and taxes. Also, the contractor company could earn back its investment on the project within eight years.

A Ministry of Finance report showed that the Taichung government had debts amounting to NT$49.8 billion by the end of last year.

The Shuinan Economic and Trade Park is an important indicator of Taichung's future and the returns from various related developments will be several times the investments, Hu had claimed previously when defending the project. The mayor also said the project is the city's most important in 400 years. The tower is being built in an environmental design inspired by the shape of the banyan tree and will be an “oasis” of the city.

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