Many people in China love hot pot, but the government of a Chengdu is taking that devotion a bit further with plans for a 1,500 square metre (16,146 square foot) temple to the bubbling spicy stew, and one of the mainland’s biggest developers has already paid RMB 81 million ($12 million) to make those hot pot dreams come true.
The capital of southwestern China’s Sichuan province, which fancies itself the hometown of hot pot, this week awarded China Vanke a 43,896 square meter commercial plot in the city’s Xindu district on the condition that the top-three developer agrees to build a 1,500 square metre hot pot museum as part of the complex.
The land sale follows less than two months after Vanke, which has been keen to replenish its depleted pipeline of new projects since last year, agreed with the Xindu government to help fulfill a RMB 1 billion hot pot, panda and music masterplan for the district in the northern suburbs of Chengdu.
Vanke Cooks Up a Sichuan Site
In return for its RMB 81 million land premium, Vanke winds the right to build up to 65,800 square metres of commercial space on the 43,896 square metre site. In addition to the museum requirement, the tender guidelines also require the developer to build a commercial pedestrian street that includes a minimum of five Sichuan Hot Pot Association-approved well-known hot pot brand restaurants, each occupying a minimum of 400 square metres. A 1,500 square meter museum dedicated to promote the culinary experience of hot pot is also part of the plan.
Hotpot, a bubbly, group meal of meats and vegetables simmered in a fiery broth at the dining table ranks alongside cuddly pandas among the most recognizable motifs of Sichuan culture. And in China, where online food platform Dianping-Meituan estimates the self-serve stew accounts for 22 percent of dishes sold in restaurants, the fiery meal is also big business.
Chengdu’s neighbours in Chongqing already have their own hot pot museum which opened in 2002 and displays more than 600 pots made in all sorts of materials and sizes with some dating back to 771 BC.
Building a Hot Pot-Panda Mash-Up
In November 2018, Vanke signed an agreement with the Xindu government to invest RMB 1 billion in a Sichuan- themed town, about 2.7 kilometres from the developer’s newly acquired parcel. The Tianfu Feiteng town, or the town of Heavenly Boiling Land, is planned to combine cultural activities that involve hot pot, pandas and music in municipal-scale mixed-use development.
In recent years the Chinese government has been championing the development of “Characteristic Towns,” to promote the transformation of small cities or villages into new urban areas integrating industrial production, tourism and housing with distinctive local characteristics.
The concept aims to promote the economic transition of developing areas, although problems such as excessive growth of real estate construction and speculation, and risks of government over-indebtedness have also emerged.
Vanke Ramps Up Land Buys
China Vanke has been accelerating its land purchases after spending late 2016 and most of 2017 fending off a hostile takeover attempt by Shenzhen-based Baoneng Group and its affiliates.
Last November, Vanke agreed to purchase six real estate projects in the provinces of Zhejiang and Jiangsu, as well as in the city of Chongqing, from a subsidiary of China Evergrande Real Estate for a total of RMB 355 million ($51 million).
The company spent RMB 546.8 billion to acquire land across China in the first ten months of 2018. The company’s land buys ranked Vanke fourth among mainland developers after Country Garden, Evergrande and Sunac China, as smaller developers struggle to bid for land during the current slowdown in the mainland housing industry.