Heritage preservation and cultural tourism support an urban regeneration program.
Gunsan City’s Old Downtown Regeneration Project relies on the participation of residents to build community pride which in turn improves the quality of life for all citizens. The project has established the Gunsan Modern History Museum and preserved cultural heritage in 172 locations. The Gunsan City Regeneration Support Centre supported by the residents’ council has initiated a number of community led projects and conducts lifelong education courses for citizens. The Centre has established urban plans for the improvement of both the residential and commercial environment, enacted related laws, expanded parking lots, buried utility lines underground, and created thematic streets by working with artistic organisations. Additionally, the Centre has supported start-ups to help revitalize the local economy, provided specialist consulting to local businesses, established guesthouse cooperatives, and help revitalized traditional markets.
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- capacity building for local communities. Adopting the approach that residents should be included in the planning and development of the project, various community councils were formed by social class, age, etc. to solicit ideas, opinions, and feedback. Residents of the old downtown area formed a residents’ council and launched the Urban Regeneration Support Centre with administrative support from the local government, and established the Urban Regeneration College, a lifelong education institution providing capacity-building opportunities for residents.
- preservation of modern history and culture. 172 buildings and structures in the old downtown area that retain the history of exploitation during Japanese rule (1910~1945) have been preserved for education of future generations. A database of for these buildings was developed during the period of 2009-2014 and a preservation and maintenance plan was adopted in 2015 to protect them. Additionally, neighborhood facilities were improved in tandem with the implementation of cultural tourism projects.
- improvement of the residential environment. As the city centre was built from an urban plan during the Japanese colonization period, the old downtown area is crowded with dilapidated residential buildings and derelict commercial districts. Additionally, due to the shortage of rain water and sewage disposal systems, residential and business conditions in the old downtown area were in a state of decline. As the number of tourists to the area increased due to the cultural regeneration project, local residents demanded improvement to their residential environment and laws were revised to relax regulations on construction, and a residential conditions improvement project was implemented.
- local economy invigoration. To ensure the continued development of the commercial district after the residential environment improvement project, the Gunsan City government collected ideas and feedback from the Urban Regeneration Support Center and other industry experts and implemented additional projects including expanded parking lots, repaired night lighting facilities, placed electric wires underground, and designated car-free streets. Moreover, in order to support start-ups and revitalize traditional markets, the city government implemented the Active Local in Gunsan project to encourage the development of collaborative projects and for participants to learn how to allocate profits and receive mentoring before they start their businesses on their own.
In 2014, Gunsan City applied and received funding via the Urban Regeneration Area programme administered by the Ministry of Land, Infrastructure, and Transport. The total budget is approximately $65 million, half are state subsidies, and the other half are funded by the Provinces and Gunsan City.
The increase of tourists associated with the success of the regeneration project could lead to unexpected outcomes such as the local economy being encroached upon by inflowing external capital, a loss of community resilience, and gentrification.