I've always been a bit fascinated with this run down building since I first learnt about it. And before you wonder, no this isn't an urbex post, I'm not that brave, I'll leave that to the serious urbex guys like @slobberchops and @martibis.
The Zhongying Recreational Building is located in the Central District of the city. The area used to be the hub of all activities due to its proximity by the train station. Today, it's a bit run down and most of the buildings looks like its about to crumble down any time. This included.
When the Zhongying Recreational Building was completed in 1971, it was considered the coolest building in town. It had a colourful geometric facade, and shopping malls on the lower levels. On 5th and 6th floors was a nightclub, and a spa complete with a swimming pool. There was even a revolving restaurant on the very top level. It was said to be one of the busiest place in town.
FIRE & WATER
That was till 1993. A guy suspected his wife was having an affair, and when he found out she was with her lover at the nightclub, he went in and set the place on fire. The fire killed 5 people and burnt the place down.
Not long after that, a child drowned in the swimming pool on the 6th floor.
A year later, in 1994 there was another fire in the building. It's not sure what started that fire, but lack of management and adequate fire prevention back in those days was likely to have contributed to it.
After these misfortunes, many businesses moved out and the building lost is spark and patrons. It was now dead more than cool. And tragedy didn't just stop there. Once the businesses moved out and the building was pretty much empty, especially on the upper levels, that attracted a lot of homeless.
In 1999, another fire broke out when the homeless were cooking. That was a major fire and killed 2 people. Some reports even said 4 or 5 were killed. This was the final straw for the authorities, and they sealed off the upper floors forbidding anyone to enter. This made the building even more spookier than before.
Today there are still a handful of tenants in the building. They're all in their sixities. When I was there today, I saw a couple of guys sitting and chatting on the ground floor. They looked pretty chilled out there.
It was obvious that one unit was still occupied on the first floor. The windows were intact, whereas the others were boarded up. I could even see curtains across the window and a water tank inside. I wonder what its like to live in a building where so many people died in fire accidents. Actually, on second thoughts, I don't want to know what it's like.
I walked a bit inside to the building and there were two wide aisles on either side. It seems like they go round to the back. I did a bit more research just now, and they actually go further than the back of the building. They go all the way up to the third floor, and it was designed so you can ride your scooter up to you front door! With me being me, this is the furthest I dared walk into the building.
Right now, there are still a few shops on the ground floor. There was a sort of buy and sell gold shop on the left hand side, a sign for a tailor, but I couldn't see the shop, and an antique shop on the right which was closed.
A few years ago, the authorities discovered that the property developer owed them around USD$320k in ground rent. The property developer had left Taiwan and gone to Japan for good. And since they couldn't get him to pay up, the authorities put the building up for auction.
Then the remaining tenants refused to move out, and there was some dispute over their ownership. It seems that when they bought the property from the developer, the property was transferred to them but not the associated land. I don't fully understand the legality of all this, but the remaining 33 tenants, all who are over 60, are now protesting, hence the white banner across the front of the building.
The government is keen to redevelop the area, and this building is one of the biggest eyesore. Knowing how things work in Taiwan, the authorities are unlikely to come down heavy handed. If there are any interested urbex reading this, come on over before its too late!!!