China tries — and fails — to build its own Manhattan

Much-trumpeted project has not attracted tenants; "throwing money in the water"

TRD New York /
Jun.June 29, 2014 05:00 PM

 Canada already got its own Upper West Side, and now China is wrapping up a replica Manhattan. One problem: it’s a ghost town. 

The skyscraper-filled Yujiapu section of the northern port city of Tianjin, which is modeled on Manhattan, has failed to attract tenants, after nearly four years of building.

“Investing here won’t be better than throwing money into the water,” Chinese investor Zhang Zhihe told Bloomberg News. “There will be no way out — it will be very difficult to find the next buyer.”

The project isn’t scheduled for completion until 2019, but when it is it will boast a new 3.86 million-square-meter financial center. The project is expected to cost RMB 200 billion, or roughly $32 billion.

But despite its troubles, construction isn’t slowing.

“Yujiapu is too iconic and too well-known in association for Tianjin for the government not to do their best to make it successful,” Michael Hart, managing director at Jones Lang LaSalle in Tianjin, said.

He added that the government will likely fill the vacant space with state-owned enterprises. [Bloomberg News]Christopher Cameron

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