Construction began on Friday for the US$1.5 billion Pearl of the North skyscraper project in the northern China city of Shenyang.
As the latest entrant into what seems to be an intramural contest among Chinese cities to thrust supertall buildings into the sky, the Pearl will include two towers, one of 565m in height and the other of 328m, plus a number of more humble buildings.
When complete, the Pearl of the North will be taller than the Shanghai World Financial Centre, which had been the tallest in China until it was surpassed by the as yet incomplete Shanghai Tower earlier this month. The Pearl of the North was designed by UK design firm Atkins.
The announcement of this project in Shenyang follows closely after a controversy over the 220-storey Sky City project in the southern Chinese city of Changsha, a building that many have criticized as structurally questionable and economically undesirable.
While slightly less ambitious than Sky City, the Pearl of the North project is likely to also face difficulties finding occupants in a city that is already one of China’s most over-built real estate markets.
In a report in Caixin earlier this year, Wang Yongping, secretary general of the China Commercial Real Estate Association, cited Shenyang, Chengdu and Tianjin as examples of over investment in the property. “The supply is huge in these cities, but it is difficult for developers to find enough retailers and other businesses to lease to in the short term,” he said.
Into this already over-supplied market, the Pearl of the North will add a structure that will be more than twice as tall as the tallest completed building in the city.
In the shorter 328m tower alone the Pearl will have 34 floors of offices and a 320-room five-star hotel on top. The overall project will contain five more residential towers on top of a major new shopping mall.
Final completion of the project is slated for 2018.
In a report earlier this year, the non-profit industry association, Urban Land Institute rated Shenyang among the Chinese cities with the lowest potential for real estate development. The report ranked Shenyang’s prospects for real estate investment at 2.53 on a scale of 0 to 5, with Shanghai being the highest rated city, with a scale of 4.0. Only the cities of Shijiazhuang, Urumqi, Wenzhou, Nanning, Zhengzhou, and Lanzhou ranked lower.