The entr’acte between a thriving urban village and its gentrification into mall-burbia occurs as developers scramble to get the last hold outs to sign compensation packages. To ensure that noone moves into buildings that have already been acquired by the developer, windows and doors are often cemented over and 拆 the character for “raze” is painted in bright red stencil.
In Nanmendun, Buji (布吉南门墩), for example, the entr’acte has been in progress since May 26, 2011, when the Kaisa Group announced that it had begun the renovation project. According to the announcement, 18,879 people lived in 479 buildings (mostly handshakes, but some early 80’s and Mao era dormitories). Of this population, roughly 10% were Nanmendun residents and entitled to relocation and compensation. Roughly two years later, the process of getting holdouts to sign and stragglers to move on is still in progress.
Nanmendun is one of five renovation projects in Buji and the usual suspects — Vanke, China Merchants, Huarun, and Xinyi are also busy gentrifying the area. What the map below makes clear, however, is how extensive rural urbanization has been in Buji. Indeed, it is hard to speak of an “urban village” when handshake buildings and unregulated development have been the dominant form of urbanization for over thirty years.