Lane shops close ahead of deadline

MANY shops and cafes have quit the city's historic Jing'an Villas complex ahead of the end-of-year deadline authorities gave them to leave. Residents living in the 70-year-old complex say local officials have been descending on the street every day and that the disruption has prompted many unlicensed businesses to shut up shop early. Last month, residents complained that noisy restaurants and bars disturbed them late at night, resulting in Jing'an District authorities telling most businesses there to close. Residents told Shanghai Daily yesterday that they feared the lane, which links Nanjing Road W. with Weihai Road, was being turned into an entertainment district like Xintiandi or Tianzifang when all they wanted was a quiet neighborhood. Shanghai Daily yesterday found that although some business name signs were still on display, their doors were locked. While many residents were delighted to have peace return to their street, others were sad to see the businesses go. Resident Sun Wen said she missed the store staff. 'They were very friendly and sometimes we'd even share our food,' she said. Meanwhile, some stores said they will hold out until the deadline. Ga Lei, store keeper of the G.Z. Cafe in the complex, said the cafe was one of the few legal stores in the complex. He said the eatery had never received complaints but was still ordered to close by the end of the year. 'Maybe some others were noisy at busy times,' he said. 'But we were always quiet and ensured we didn't disturb residents.' Ga said commercial authorities and fire control authorities frequently came to undertake inspections. Most stores closed because the presence of officials disturbed customers, he said. At its peak, there were 80 businesses in the complex. Store owners will be fined 50,000 yuan (US$7,500) if they don't close down by December 31."

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