about urban villages…

On May 26, I participated in a municipal CPPCC event with the intimate title 《城中村——那些事儿》. The event name might be translated as “What’s happening in our urban villages?” PCC, of course, stands for Political Consultative Conference (政协), which has an advisory role to the government. Continue reading

shatou renovations. again

So, as the Xiasha Kingkey project finishes up, another urban renovation project begins in neighboring Shangsha. Below, impressions of the Xiasha plaza, the Kingkey complex along Binhe Road, and the state of unmaking in Shangsha.

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shekou upgrades continue

Walking Shekou today, I remembered that not only are urban villages subject to Shenzhen’s cultural industry inspired renovations. Older areas of Shenzhen, especially factories and housing estates are also being razed and/or remodeled to conform to different aesthetics and economic plans. Views on the process near Seaworld and the e-cool area, which used to be Sanyo factories (pictures of area, 2008).

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universiade facelifts

All the universiade mandated upgrades have us walking through and between construction sites. Today’s pictures from Coastal City and Seaworld.

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cui bono? state power, urban village rights, and the vanishing of affordable housing

Recent events in Dachong draw our attention to how news coverage and debate about Shenzhen urban renovation projects focus on conflicts between the real estate developers and urban villages, effectively rendering invisible the growing lack of affordable housing for Shenzhen’s migrant workers.

Shenzhen’s mandatory urban renovation plans benefit developers and the government because villages must negotiate a transfer of land use rights. This means that even though compensation packages enrich villagers, long-term, successful project developers and the municipal government end up making more. In this sense, villager complaints that they have been underpaid have a certain legitimacy.  However, in return for their landuse rights, villagers receive compensation packages that include standardized reimbursement for extant housing, moving costs, and compensation for loss of livelihood. Villagers with multiple holdings and savvy negotiating skills become very rich; published reports indicate that as a result of development, Dachong villagers have joined the ranks of millionaires and several are now billionaires.

Huarun (China Resources)  has been negotiating with Dachong since March 2009. Indeed, banners calling for early decisions to sign transfer contracts were draped throughout Dachong and construction walls have been painted with slogans that sing the benefits of urban village  renovation. A sample — Scientific urban planning, collective transformation; Harmonious renovation, civilized relocation. New Dachong, New Life, New Development.

Nevertheless, as of April 15, there were still ten holdouts. The Dachong Stock Holding Corporation wrote an open letter to those holdouts, asking them to sign contracts immediately. A translation of the letter: Continue reading

statutory planning and opportunistic urbanization

How to interpret the following soundbite?

The spokesman for the Municpal Planning and Land Council stated that through 2010, the City had approved 96 proposals to raze 832.77 hectares and build on 637.08 dedicate hectares, and plans to build 32.77 million square meters of architecture.  市规划国土委有关负责人介绍,截至2010年,全市累计批准拆除重建类改造规划96项,涉及拆除用地面积约832.77公顷,建设用地面积约637.08公顷,规划建筑面积约3277万平方米。 Continue reading