Tallest Building on West Lake: The Lure of Billions of Yuan – Southern Weekend

Translated by CDT from Southern Weekend:

In January this year, Hangzhou (Êù≠Â∑û)’s tallest building went down, in an explosion on the West Lake (Ë•øÊπñ). Standing at 72 meters, the Zhejiang University property was already way beyond the cap of 25 meters for lakeside areas. But it was not the end of the controversy. The site will soon see an even taller building, 85 meters, which will house a five-star hotel, a big shopping mall and nice office spaces.

With a total construction area of 176,000 square meters, the new tallest complex will be raking in a lot of revenue: 17.6 billion yuan at the price of 100,000 yuan per square meter, or at the very least 8.8 billion yuan at half that rate. The selling point is, as one of the local developers noted, that everything with a lake view will be red hot and in high demand.

This project, snapped up by a Hong Kong developer (香港嘉里集团), has become another point of concern and controversy. A local survey found 80% of residents oppose building another high-rise around the lake, which has already been turned into a cement jungle by the latest real estate boom in the city.

Some urban planning experts recalled that there had been clear restrictions on the height of buildings around the lake since the 1980s. Many distinguished institutions, including Tsinghua, Tongji and Zhejiang Universities, have convened on numerous occasions and later reached a conclusion that 25 meters should be the limit of buildings around the lake. That is the height of most French Indus trees.

But these experts have since seen the plan give way to the building boom, time and again. Although many say the buildings that now besiege the lake look ugly, they fetch record-setting high prices. Properties in a high-rise just one kilometer from the lake sold out soon for 60,000 yuan per square meter. Another apartment building, near the new tall building, sold for 110,000 yuan. [Full Text in Chinese]

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