Check out a ghost town of deserted Chinese mega-villas built for multimillionaires that's now overrun by farmers and left to rot
- Farmers have overrun a set of abandoned villas in Shenyang, China, to grow crops and rear cattle.
- Their farm animals have been seen roaming around homes inside the decrepit development, per AFP.
An abandoned town of half-built villas in northeastern China has found a new lease of life — farmers have occupied it and started using the deserted land to grow crops and rear cattle, per the AFP.
The Chinese property giant Greenland Group broke ground on the State Guest Mansions project in a suburb of Shenyang back in 2010, per the AFP. The exclusive development in China's northeastern Liaoning province was planned to have 260 European-style villas to house the city's ultrarich.
The project was abandoned two years later, per the AFP.
The half-built villas have become overrun by local farmers, who plow the land and plant crops on the overgrown lawns of abandoned villas. The desolate homes stand unfinished and unpainted like crumbling tombstones dotting the expansive wasteland.
The ghost town doesn't house multimillionaires — instead, its residents include a variety of cattle and livestock that wander around outside the European-style villas.
The insides of the buildings look post-apocalyptic, too, like shots straight out of "The Last of Us." The models showcasing what this development was meant to be — a lush paradise for China's nouveau riche — sit in a now-decaying housing-sales building on the sprawling property.
Guo, a 45-year-old farmer who moved into the ghost town, told the AFP that the development was likely abandoned "because of official corruption."
"They cut off the funding and cracked down on uncontrolled developments, so it was left half-finished," Guo told the outlet.
"These homes would have sold for millions, but the rich haven't even bought one of them," Guo added.
These half-built villas have also captivated the attention of some users on China's Twitter-like social-media platform, Weibo. Some Weibo users questioned why the government hadn't done anything about it or taken over the land.
"This place has been left abandoned for so many years," one Weibo user wrote.
"Only ghosts can reside here!" another Weibo user said.
Shenyang's ghost villas are just one of many "rotten" real-estate projects across China's urban landscape
This triggered fears from the Chinese government that progress would stall on large-scale projects occupying sizable swathes of urban land. Evergrande was the most indebted company in the world in October 2021 and now holds more than $300 billion in debt.
And it wasn't just Evergrande's implosion that put Chinese real-estate projects at risk of never being built. People buying real estate, or shopping for their first homes in China, are still at risk of ending up with "rotten-tail houses," developments that get abandoned midway through construction.
On social-media sites like Douyin, China's version of TikTok, there are videos galore of people squatting in abandoned apartment buildings. In some videos, people can be seen moving their bed frames into half-built apartments and cooking their meals in makeshift kitchens, with no other option but to live in unfurnished units.
When abandoned en-masse, much like Shenyang's State Guest Mansions, these mega-developments can turn into ghost neighborhoods — or, worse, ghost cities.
Li Gan, an economics professor at Texas A&M University who is the director of the Survey and Research Center for China Household Finance at Chengdu's Southwestern University of Finance and Economics, told Insider in October 2021 that ghost cities were "a unique China phenomenon." A mismatch between falling demand and excess supply has resulted in these abandoned developments popping up across China, he said.
"They built an oversupply, and then they sold it. And that's why you see the vacancies," Gan told Insider.
Representatives for Greenland Group did not immediately respond to a request for comment sent outside regular business hours.
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