Is Shanghai's Laowai Jie Shutting Down?

By Bridget O'Donnell, September 11, 2017

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First Yongkang Lu, now Laowai Jie?

The bar and restaurant street, particularly popular among foreigners in Gubei and Hongqiao, will likely get dismantled and relocated, reports SHINE.

POLL: Should Laowai Jie Shut Down?

“The structures on Laowai Jie were built temporarily after 1999 to make life convenient for nearby residents,” Wang Mingqiang, director of housing administration for the city’s housing and urban-rural construction and management commission, told SHINE. 

Its temporary permits expired 12 years ago, in 2005, which would make all the structures there illegal. It's unclear why authorities are only now considering taking action.

The government has also ordered for a cleanup of "environmental problems with catering enterprises" in the Xuhong Railway area that connects Shanghai Hongqiao International Airport with the Shanghai-Hangzhou line. Efforts to spruce up Laowai Jie are already said to be taking place, and discussions are underway to help "successful" restaurants move to nearby Xianfeng Lu with the help of Minhang District authorities.

Laowai Jie is home to roughly 35 establishments serving up cuisine from countries all over the world.

Laowai Jie in Shanghai
Laowai Jie has establishments serving food from all over the world.

But like Yongkang Lu in its wild heyday, similar issues appear to have plagued Laowai Jie recently, as the commercial street sits right next to several residential complexes.

READ MORE: Shanghai Mayor Vows to Shut Down Yongkang Lu

SHINE reports that as venues began opening up their outdoor patios to patrons in the summer, residents complained that the street got rowdy, with loud music and noisy customers extending well into the middle of the night.

Said one resident surnamed Chen: “Some people speak loud and even fight after drinking alcohol, even when it is bedtime for us.” 

Nearby residents and venue owners say the noisiness only got worse during major sporting events like the 2016 Olympics and festivals. It even got messy... literally:

"George Qian, who manages restaurant and bar La Seine, said he had seen residents throw excrement at the street during more boisterous activities, such as a beer festival held by another restaurant."

Residents also complained of pollution heavy traffic in the area. Because the street had apparently originally been planned as a public green space, residents claimed that the government had failed to keep its promises.

Laowai Jie in Shanghai
Nearby residents complained of noise, pollution and traffic problems at Laowai Jie. Sound familiar?

In recent months, authorities took similar measures as the Xuhui district government did prior to Yongkang Lu's shutdown. Restaurants were required to install soundproof doors, and live performances and outdoor loudspeakers were banned. Decibel meters were even installed to notify owners of when the area got too noisy. 

When things got especially rowdy, especially during events like the World Cup, government officials attempted to smooth things over with residents by compensating them with gifts.

Though the venues in the area have leases extending up until 2019, it's unclear when (or if) the structures will begin to be torn down.

[Images via Phreddie on Flickr]

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