Tuesday, January 3, 2012

Chinese Ghost Town

Empty Apartment Building in Kangbashi
In China they are very efficient.  Rather than build a town, and have people work and play in it for a few years before events lead it to be abandoned and turn into a ghost town, they go straight to the chase.  They build an empty city.  It is a little like Las Vegas late-bubble housing divisions, except on a much grander scale.  From the  Global Times Forum:

Perhaps the most stark ghost city is Kangbashi, in Inner Mongolia. Built in just five years, Kangbashi was designed to be the showcase urban center of Ordos City, a relatively wealthy coal-mining hub that's home to 1.5 million people. A public-works project worthy of Kubla Khan's "stately pleasure-dome," Kangbashi is filled with office towers, administrative centers, government buildings, museums, theaters and sports fields — not to mention acre on acre of subdivisions overflowing with middle-class duplexes and bungalows. The only problem: the district was originally designed to house, support and entertain 1 million people, yet hardly anyone lives there. Only a handful of cars drive down Kangbashi's multilane highways, a few government offices are open during the day and an occasional pedestrian, appearing like a hallucination, can be seen trudging down a sidewalk, like a lone survivor of some horror-movie apocalypse.
 Note that the initial forum posting and pictures were from 2010 when construction was still ongoing.  Now as the Wall Street Journal (see below) noted recently, construction has come to a stop. Maybe they were getting lonely.

China's Bind: How to Avoid a Crash Landing

By Tom Orlik (Reuters), Wall Street Journal 2 December 2011

ORDOS, China—For a sense of the sharp policy shift China's leaders have to orchestrate to avoid the world's second-largest economy landing with a hard thud, look no further than this Inner Mongolia desert town, where construction cranes have come to an abrupt standstill.

The construction slump could not have come at a worse moment for China's factories. A key manufacturing measure Thursday, the official purchasing-managers index, fell to 49 in November, below the 50 mark that separates expansion from contraction and the lowest since the financial crisis in February 2009...

And thus the ghost town.  Ordo is the planned center city of the above noted City of Kangbashi.

The town grew prosperous on the back of massive reserves of coal, and like the newly rich all over China, its residents piled into property. The result was a new city in the desert—Kangbashi—the eerily empty "ghost town" that has come to symbolize the excesses of China's property boom...

Ghost towns like Kangbashi are symptomatic of a wider malaise in China's property sector. Nationwide there was 3.6 billion square meters of property under construction at the end of October, compared to sales of just 709 million square meters in the first 10 months of the year, suggesting a wave of overcapacity about to hit the market

You will note, as much as like to call every every abandoned cluster of buildings a "ghost town", the term was introduced by the Wall Street Journal.

Kangbashi Rush Hour


Stephen said...

Strange people, those Chinese...

russell1200 said...

LOL- it is out there.

FWIW, there are projects where people build cities from scratch. Usually to service some sort of commodity or commodity processing, that is going to be around a long time.

What is mind boggling is the not only the scale, but the elaborate nature of the buildings. If you follow the Global Times Forum link (and based on your comment, you may have), you will see some pretty wild structures.