China @ Street Level, Ghost City

Hunan Province here and this is an artificially constructed “ancient city”, a little like some of the “villages” in Singapore. It’s actually a construction project that has gone the way of 烂尾楼, abandoned uncompleted. In an area without any historical buildings, the developers had tried to fabricate a modern estate inspired by the design of an “ancient city”. Many unsuspecting buyers must have been caught here.

Baidu says (and it reads like an advertisement):

Based on local traditional cultural characteristics with classical charm and historical perspectives, Jiangnan Ancient City exudes the atmosphere of Yiyang, highlighting the cultural heritage of traditional houses. The construction cost is estimated to be 5.8 billion yuan.

The whole process of the development and construction of the ancient city follows the two principles of conservation and environmental friendliness, from design to transportation, construction, energy usage, industrial activity and social management, the two principles are always adhered to.

It is built on 2,000 acres of land with traditional houses in the residential area of ​​the ancient city. Within this area, there are 300 acres of water features built around 12 different designs of traditional houses based on the Chinese zodiac to meet the needs of high net worth individuals.

Construction and maintenance are resource-saving and environmentally friendly. Themes in the city include Red Culture, Three Kingdoms culture, Huxiang culture, Meishan culture and Hunan army culture. The ancient city will give the visitor a retro feel. The first phase of opening was accomplished on 9 October 2014.

The result in 2021 is shown in the video below. Baidu did not bother to remove the sales pitch. Monumental as it is, it could have been a spectacular site if things had gone according to plan. Targeted at the well-heeled, it’s not fit for vagabonds. On some of the completed buildings, occupants hung out slogans demanding for their title deeds.

Mr Shi reveals that many properties that are sold in China do not actually come with title deeds. It’s not unusual at all. For these folks, they are lucky that their developer did not abandon the construction. I know of Singaporeans who have been tricked not once but twice.