The World’s Largest Mall has a less than 1% Occupancy Rate

By

17th Dec, 2013

Chinese Mall

Welcome to the New South China Mall, better known as the world’s largest “dead mall”. It was built in 2005 on farm land by a billionaire who made his fortune in the instant noodle industry. Did his luck extend to commercial retail? Not so much. The mall has remained 99% vacant of commerce since the very first day it opened.

Lead image (c) MrMoral

Dongguan October 2010

Dongguan October 2010

Images (c) Remko Tanis

The mall is located in the suburbs of Dongguan, east of the Guangdong province’s largest city, and is home to more 10 million residents. With 892,000 square metres of leasable space, room for more than 2,000 shops, it was intended to be a hub for luxury shopping, “proof of China’s new consumer culture”, (said the NY Times), and attract up to 70,000 shoppers a day.

Dongguan October 2010

Seven zones was constructed within the mall, each representing a different city or region; Paris, Amsterdam, Rome, Venice (complete with a St. Mark’s bell tower and gondolas and a canal), California, Egypt … you get the idea.

“They were going for a monument, and a monument was what they got,” says Wade Shepherd of The China Chronicle, who visited the mega mall earlier this year.

Dongguan October 2010

Dongguan October 2010

Dongguan October 2010

Shenzhen October 2010

So what went wrong? Alex Hu, our instant noodle billionaire, wanted to build his shrine to capitalism for his home city. But it seems Mr. Hu might be a little out of touch with his roots. The residents of Dongguan today are largely made up of low-earning factory workers. And all those farmers whose land was bulldozed to make way for his mall? Most of them also went to work for the factories in the China’s manufacturing heartland. All in all, not exactly the luxury consumers the mall was intended for.

Dongguan October 2010

I don’t even know what this is supposed to be.

Amazing World

Dongguan October 2010

The mall’s exact location is tricky too. In fact, it’s dreadful. From downtown Dongguan, it takes a seemingly never-ending two and a half hour bus ride to finally arrive at the mall– which has nothing in it. Unreachable to a large percentage of the public, there are no highways that take you straight there and yet it’s only accessible by car or bus. Most locals don’t even know how to get there because they’ve never bothered to go.

Dongguan October 2010

If you do finally get to the New South China mall, don’t expect to be able to go shopping. The only thing you’ll find are a few Western fast food chains near the entrance, a parking lot that’s being used as a karting track and the IMAX theatre (that’s a long way to go to see a movie).

Dongguan October 2010

And if you were a retailer interested in buying some space (hypothetically of course), good luck using the website of the world’s largest mall. Just click. Seriously.

Dongguan October 2010

They built it, but they did not come.

Academy Award-nominated documentary filmmaker Sam Green made a short film about the South China Mall called “Utopia Part 3: the World’s Largest Shopping Mall.” The film premiered at the 2009 Sundance Film Festival 

YouTube Preview Image

Take a ride with the Vagabond Journey to the South China Mall.

See more images of the mall by Remko Tanis

:::

YOU MIGHT ALSO LIKE:

.

 

 

 

 

You might also like

Comments

More in Editor's PicksNostalgiaTime travel

Hot Off the Press

Editor's Picks

Processed with VSCOcam with f2 preset

The Clandestine VIP Dinner in Paris

I once heard this is where French Presidents take their mistresses. Discretely tucked away in a backstreet of South Pigalle, it doesn't look like much from the outside, but I think that's the idea....

Trending 2,061
Processed with VSCOcam with e7 preset

The Notting Hill Pub with a Spicy Secret

If you're looking for a traditional English pub with a twist, I think I have something for you. I grew up around the corner from this place, admiring the flowers passing by everyday, but I was ...

Trending 2,975
9147995540_19f127912e_h

A Compendium of Vintage Pool Parties

Some things just look like a lot more fun in vintage grainy photos. I found a ton of nostalgic of motel pool postcards on Flickr and couldn't help but put together another little compendium of some ...

Trending 4,216
tubedinner1_Fotor

A Gourmet Dinner on the London Tube

I heard Londoners spend an average of 56 minutes a day on the tube getting to and from their places of work, so convincing them to get on an underground train for dinner would probably seem like ...

Trending 2,191