2020 is a tough year

My Jenny Lou is closed

2020 is a tough year for many businesses in Beijing, too many to mention. Some are simply the victim of the wave of destruction in Beijing, in particular in my gongti area (Worker’s Stadium), for others it is the impact of COVID-19.

My favorite Jenny Lou decided to close, it was in front of Buona Bocca and Mala Bocca (Xindong Lu, the small street of Jiamei Dental), see how it looked like in February 2020. Reason: too few foreign customers… as many cannot be back.

Another victim is Cafe de la Poste, was in operation for some 15 years.

Gongti destruction

As posted earlier, most within the gongti area is to be razed.

See here an update with the buildings on the north side being demolished, the coffeeshop also marked “to destroy”, Superlife biting the dust and our beloved Legend Beer and Laburnum Thai Restaurant being smashed to pieces. The whole gongti area is becoming very flat…

See the date of the picture.
It seems some buildings will be spared (IQIYI and the “hotel”) but who knows… Also the fate of (formerly called) Gongti Yibai (Gongti 100 see how it was originally https://www.frommers.com/destinations/beijing/active-pursuits) remains unclear but Club One Third is still making a mess of the traffic in the street till early morning hours.

 

Beijing Gongti demolition

chai chai

Beijing Gongti demolition now in full progress, the chai signs are everywhere, “chai” meaning “to destroy”…
See earlier post:
New Beijing Workers Stadium

Legend Beer and the Thai restaurant Laburnum had some illusions they could stick it out but on 15 September they were forced to close.

The Gongti Strip has a long and complicated history. I hope to post more about it later.
Many venues opened and closed, in succession. One was “TrueColor” that was frequented by many foreign and Chinese models. Rumors say they were selling lots of champagne but never paid the supplier. It then “closed” and changed to strange new venues (Superlife, Nuku Nuku, whatever).

See an ad of TrueColor and more about the Worker’s Stadium demolition, now complete.

Legend Beer closed

On 15 September, it was closed. Message of our friend Adam:
Dear Friends from all over the world, since the opening of Legend on June 10, 2016, we have been operating for four years, three months and four days together, a total of 51 months and 4 days, 1555 days and nights. We cherish the unforgettable scenes of laughter and joy Legend has brought us all. Let it be known legend was unwilling to end its operations, but alas we were forced to close. For now, we have to say goodbye to all our friends, however, goodbye is never a real farewell, rather a temporarily leave. Be prepared for the next stop, our new location will soon run. See you at the next Legend!
Adam

Last pics of Legend Beer

Actually I visited Legend Beer one day before the opening, to have a look and “inspection”.
As far as I understand they have chosen a new location in Guomao area; another one pretty close to the old one is under consideration. Can’t say more.

On 11 September I had my goodbye, as I knew what would happen… Some pics for the memory. The venue was frequented by many pretty girls, Chinese and foreigners.
All sad as they spent big money on renovations in the past twelve months.

And a small clip of the outside area:

 

Beijing Gongti demolition not that clear

Going around one can see most venues are marked “to destroy”, even Dadong Peking Duck. Strangely some are not marked yet, like the IQIYI building and the small eatery in front of it. And Peking Chamber (“Michelin 2020”) and its neighbors.
As said, the building “Gongti Yibai” is still in operation and the disco One Third is going full blast till the early mornings. Heaven Supermarket has already opened a new venue corner of Gongti Bei Lu, Xindong Lu.

Some pics from around the Gongti area, west, north, east sides.

New Beijing Workers Stadium

Confusion

Few people seem to be aware we will have a new Beijing Workers Stadium, expected to be delivered by December 2022, to be ready for the July 2023 Opening Ceremonies for the 2023 Asian Cup Games. Many were confused why the old stadium was being demolished starting on 5 August 2020.

See how the Stadium looked like and the razing that took a few days only. They used water cannons to reduce the dust.
Well, blame the usual lack of communication by the Beijing Government. Some even say the secrecy is due to the fact the area is “owned by the military”.
The new stadium will be at the same location but with improvements to meet the needs of world-class professional football field.
However it is a fact there is a total lack of clarity how the area will be transformed as it is the location of many restaurants, discos, KTV and other outlets.
Also unclear is what will happen with the Gongti Indoor Stadium: they just started building a big fence around it.
I first reported on it here.

As far as I know most if not all of the venues will be closed at some point. That would also include Legend Beer, among others. It is said “The Workers Stadium will also become an open urban public space for mass sports and cultural activities and a new vitality center of the city.”

A long history and end of life

I have so many stories about that stadium. It was also my training ground to prepare for my marathons, having the complete stadium with its running track only for myself.

The main structure of the Workers Stadium had reached its service life.
It was designed by the Beijing Institute of Architectural Design and Research and was completed and put into use in 1959. It was the largest comprehensive stadium in the eastern part of Beijing. It had a standard football field, a 400-meter rubber track among others. The main building was 64,000 sqm. it was the venue for the first National Games and other large-scale sports events.

According to the Beijing Municipal Commission of Planning and Natural Resources, the main building of the Stadium was a concrete structure with a design life of 50 years. Since the 1990s, three structural reinforcements and one facility renovation have been carried out. Among them, in order to host the 2008 Beijing Olympic Games, the Workers’ Stadium has undergone comprehensive structural reinforcement in accordance with the 7-degree seismic fortification standard (the Beijing area is an 8-degree seismic fortification area) – the service life is 12 years. At present, the main structure of the Beijing Workers Stadium had reached the end of its service life, and there are potential safety hazards and obsolete facilities and equipment.

By 2018, the National Construction Engineering Quality Supervision and Inspection Center conducted a house inspection and appraisal of the construction. The conclusion was the overall structural safety and seismic resistance of the building seriously did not meet the relevant national standards. It also did not meet the requirements of the Asian Cup and other major international professional football matches. Therefore, it was urgent to upgrade.

The new stadium

After the transformation of the new Beijing Workers Stadium, the elliptical shape of the main building will remain basically unchanged, and it will meet the needs of the internal circular passage while maintaining the proportion of the facade.
At the same time, the reconstruction will keep the original characteristic elements of the construction body basically unchanged, and protect and restore the important characteristic elements, such as flagpoles, gate posts, sculptures, and architectural decoration components.

See a few pictures showing the future stadium and the surrounding area. While some may be “artist rendering” most of the existing structures in the area seem to be gone except for the two main buildings of former “Gongti Yibai”.

You can also see the large new underground facilities with the connection to the new subway lines (should be Line 3 and Line 17, all currently under construction).
See also a view on the new facility being built by CSCEC on the East side of the Stadium: “China Philharmonic Orchestra Concert Hall and Rehearsal Facilities”.
Nobody talks about this…
And a lot is going on also in the South East corner of the Gongti area. No idea what is coming there.

Sources, among other:
http://www.bjnews.com.cn/news/2020/08/20/760571.html
https://xw.qq.com/cmsid/20200807A0GC8Z00?ADTAG=amp

I keep you posted!

Gongti strip to disappear

The verdict

I knew this was coming through my contacts: the gongti strip to disappear, along with all bars, discos, restaurants and shops in the Worker’s Stadium area. I called it the “gongti strip” as we have the Las Vegas Strip. At night the street becomes total chaos with cars blocking each other, girls in mini miniskirts, a procession of the most expensive cars. Traffic police permanently on holiday.
It is planned all will disappear by the end of the year, including Legend Beer.
See:
https://mp.weixin.qq.com/s/vxjW_OXK7Fwmx_NHFOnOdg

Construction crews already set up their quarters and they have started work.

Memories

So many famous locations of the Beijing nightlife:
VICS, MIX, Tubestation, Club Sirteen, Bellagio, Heaven Supermarket, Lantern, Elements, KTVs, name it.
See some here as they are still in place, also a few of the many venues inside the stadium area.

Some historical facts of the area:
Gongti Turns 60: A Look Back at the Stadium’s Moments in History
theBeijinger 4 August 2020
https://mp.weixin.qq.com/s/ddiOU98_p4BCzig_cdvk7Q

However there is a mistake in the overview. The first concert was not at all in 1999. One of the first I actually attended myself in 1985, the performance by Wham! (George Michael), the first Western band to perform in China as the country began to open up after the Cultural Revolution, an hour-long concert for 15.000 people.
See:
https://www.scmp.com/news/hong-kong/education-community/article/2057286/george-michael-china-how-singer-made-it-over

See an overview of the articles: 200803 endofera

Sterile city

It is supposed to be to be a major renovation of the Worker’s Stadium and the surrounding area, and as far as I understand also to build a new subway station. I am afraid it will be a sterile and funless new gongti.

The former “Gongti Yibai”, the formerly biggest indoor bowling area in the world (100 lanes) has been transformed over the years in a huge complex of discos, KTV and more.
With all the government much criticized clampdown on “illegal structures”, leading to massive destruction of shops, restaurants and bars, the government never dared to touch the KTV and other who simply took over the huge underground parking, to build their venues. License? You bet. I guess some got very well rewarded for ignoring this “illegal construction”. I dare anyone to show me the legal go-ahead!

Many nice bars and cafes have been closed in the hutongs and in Sanlitun. It seems some are coming back as new discos, even now they are filled to capacity with a massive dancing crowd. And that during “COVID time”. Social distancing? Hahahaha. Even Club Sirteen on the Gongti Strip is still full blast in the night. Well, for the time being. (click to view the video clip)

200808 sirteen

Sometimes one cannot understand how the Beijing government works.