In Shanghai, a Roomy Loft From a Small Apartment

The New York Times Great Homes and Destinations section has profiled a 425 square foot apartment in Shanghai rebuilt from a historic unit on a tree-lined street:

…Hebe Ting, a property investor from northern China who moved to Shanghai in 2001, has always been attracted to the traditional, specifically, the fast-disappearing early-1900’s lane houses in Shanghai’s former French Concession. “I didn’t want to live in a big new building where everyone has the same things,” said Ms. Ting, 40. “I wanted something private and special.”

So when she first stepped inside a rundown apartment in a quiet lane lined with towering trees in the French Concession in 2006, she immediately saw its potential and launched into a bidding war with another interested buyer on the spot.

“I walked in and within five minutes knew I wanted it,” Ms. Ting said. “But someone else was trying to negotiate for the apartment.” She told the owners that she’d pay 100,000 renminbi ($12,600 at 7.87 renminbi to the dollar) over the other buyer’s bid. The owners accepted, and an hour later, she brought them a cash deposit.

The history of the lane was one of the selling points for Ms. Ting, who now lives in the apartment with her American boyfriend, Eric Ransdell, 46, a co-founder of Fly Films, a television production company in Shanghai, and the director of the Chinese version of “The Amazing Race.” Originally constructed as Japanese luxury apartments in the 1930s, the buildings were taken over by the Communists in 1949 and turned into housing for the Chinese Academy of Sciences, one of the country’s top research institutions.

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