THE renovation of a former jailhouse built by the British 90 years ago, and which is home to 260 families, has been ongoing since last summer, the Yangpu District government said yesterday.
Built around a courtyard, Longchang Villa on Pingliang Road stands next to the Yangpu District police bureau and was given “immovable cultural heritage” status by the city government in 2004.
The renovation work includes the removal of illegal add-ons, such as kitchens in corridors, while the property is being rewired, and fire alarms and a further 100 fire extinguishers are being installed.
The project has been ongoing for about a year and is scheduled for completion by the end of October, said an official with the neighborhood committee.
A worker told Shanghai Daily yesterday he was replacing the old concrete roof. He said he started work on the site last month and that the roof should be finished in August.
Two other workers said they had been replacing water pipes, installing a new sprinkler system and rewiring the property since last summer.
A woman surnamed Xu said she has been living in a 20-square-meter room on the top floor of the five-story building for almost 30 years since.
“The roof lets in the rain and the place gets really hot in the summer,” she said.
“The workers have been making loud noises since last year, but I can put up it if it improves our living conditions.”
She said she was glad the place was being rewired as some of the existing wiring was dangerous.
The kitchens built in corridors are also a hazard, Xu said.
“Many of us built cooking areas in public spaces because the rooms are so small,” said 62-year-old Chen Suzhen, who lives with her 86-year-old mother in a room measuring just 10 square meters.
Last year, Chen’s mother started a fire after papers she’d left beside the gas cooker ignited. The wall remains scorched, she said.
“I know it’s dangerous, but we don’t have a choice,” she said.
A 50-something resident surnamed Zhang, who said she’s been living in the building all her life, said she once saw the window frame from a neighbor’s property fall out of the wall and crash down to the street below.
“Luckily, no one was passing by at the time,” she said.