Bars, shops demolished in Beijing’s well-known expat haunt

Officials say illegal construction work and businesses had been operating in ‘Dirty Bar Street’ in Sanlitun

PUBLISHED : Tuesday, 25 April, 2017, 12:33pm
UPDATED : Tuesday, 25 April, 2017, 1:54pm

Beijing may have found the best hangover cure of all: demolish the bars altogether.

Over 30 stores in Sanlitun Houjie – better known as Dirty Bar Street – were demolished on Monday afternoon, ending an era of grimy pubs and restaurants popular with expats.

Pictures posted on social media show the once-bustling street, located behind the more upmarket Taikoo Li development in Sanlitun, reduced to rubble.

Zhao Yong, the head of the Sanlitun enforcement team, was quoted by the Winshang news website as saying that the decision to forcefully evict residents and demolish the stretch came after businesses engaged in a range of illegal activities, including altering their buildings or carrying out construction work without permits, plus setting up unlicenced kiosks.

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The street will undergo extensive renovation, Zhao said.

Some expats expressed dismay that popular bars and venues were under threat.

American expat Jeff Tykot, 25, who has lived in Beijing for three years, said no really popular venues had been demolished yet, but it was a worry.

“I guess I should go a bit more often in case they also get closed,” he told the South China Morning Post.

Another expat Eric Tarchoune commented on Facebook: “Some good memories reduced to ashes.”

Businesses on the street had little warning of the news and many will be forced to find a new location.

Hu Shengxuan, the owner of a DVD store, told the magazine The Beijinger the situation was very troublesome and bad for business.

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Some Chinese commentators online welcomed the demolitions.

“The originals were illegal, demolition is normal,” said one.

“For a long time Beijing ought to bring this dirty mess under control,” said another.

Dirty Bar Street is not the only casualty of gentrification in the capital. A number of bars and shops in Beijing’s old areas of narrow alleyways, the hutongs, have also recently been closed, according to media reports.