The occupants of a century-old protected building in the Bund area of the city have been ordered to restore its original granite exterior after covering it in grey paint.
The Huangpu District government suspended the renovation project yesterday after being alerted to it by the public, Xinmin Evening News reported.
Zhongjin Stock Investment Management Co, the tenant of No. 102 Guangdong Road, has been ordered to remove the paint, a government press officer was quoted as saying.
The five-story former headquarters of Japanese firm Mitsubishi Co was built in 1914. In 1999 it was given protected status, which means its tenants must apply to the government for permission to undertake any renovation or decorative works.
The building’s owner, surnamed Li, said he too had ordered Zhongjin to halt the painting work as it constituted a breach of their lease agreement, the report said.
The housing authority will also pursue legal action against the tenant, the press officer said.
The renovation work was first spotted by a member of the public who uploaded images of it to the Internet.
“The beautiful granite facade was substituted by an ugly shroud,” the unidentified person wrote on weibo.com.
Cao Yongkang, director of the cultural relics protection center at Jiao Tong University, was quoted as saying: “The paint will accelerate the weathering of the granite ... it will crack and fall apart.”
Cao said that despite the government’s order, the paint will be hard to remove as it will have already penetrated deep into the granite.
The press officer said the government has invited cultural experts to help decide how best to restore the building’s original appearance.