End of the line for 696

Sad news, although not wholly unexpected: 696 Weihai Lu is slated for demolition. According to stageBACK gallery, the buildings have been sold by to the Jing'an investment company who plan to renovate and transform the property into a creative cluster, linking it to the villas behind. The 72 creative and artist studios currently occupying the century-old building (which was reportedly once used to stash opium) will need to find new premises by end of March 2011, according to the gallery's blog. The complex has been central to Shanghai's contemporary art scene for several years. Although home to several notable galleries - Around Space and stageBACK, for example - its focus has always been more on creating and artists as opposed to Moganshan Lu cluster of visitor-friendly, established galleries. Studios abound, artists having been attracted by the comparatively low rents to be found there. ShanghaiEye's Chris Gill has a spot there and has linked to more tidbits of info on his site, as well as a spirited petition organized by Noura Nur. Do take a look, and make sure to pay perhaps a final visit to the much loved complex - the demise of this vibrant, international hub will be a genuine loss to the city's creative scene.