While plans for a pair of one kilometre tall towers in Wuhan have been in the news recently, an 838 metre tall Chinese project announced last year and planned for completion by April 2014, appears to currently be serving as a watermelon patch.
The ambitious plan announced by Changsha-based conglomerate Broad Sustainable Building last July to build the 838-metre-tall Sky City tower in its Hunan province home-town was originally met with skepticism when the neophyte developer announced that it would be completed within nine months time.
Although Sky City broke ground nearly one year ago, however, recent photos of the project site show little change from the time of the ceremony, other than a healthy growth of watermelon and weeds.
To Build the World’s Tallest Building on History’s Fastest Schedule
If completed, Sky City would be 10 metres taller than the world’s current height champ, the Burj Khalifa in Dubai, and 206 metres taller than China’s tallest building, the Shanghai Tower.
At the time that ground was broken last year, Broad estimated total cost for the project at US$626 million (compared to the Burj Khalifa’s $1.5 billion and the Shanghai Tower’s $2.2 billion). The developer projected that it could save money and time in putting the building together by using its proprietary pre-fabricated building techniques.
Beyond the ambitious schedule and daring engineering, however, many observers questioned the economic viability of constructing the world’s tallest building in one of China’s second-tier cities.
In any case, the project soon ran into unspecified bureaucratic barriers after the global media attention the project attracted seemed to mysteriously convert local government officials who had previously backed the project, into local government officials who might be blocking the project.
Now the cornerstone set at the ground-breaking last year sits surrounded by weeds in a wide open field. Part of the site is now being cultivated by a local farmer who has seemed undeterred from growing watermelon and corn on the site of what might suddenly become the site of a one-million square metre sky scraper. The farmer told a local reporter that he began growing crops on the vacant site this year, and no one objected.
A security guard charged with supervising the site of the future super-tall was quoted in local news reports as saying that there had been no activity on the plot since July last year.
Sky City Said to Lack Permits
According to reports on the project, while Sky City had secured land use rights and planning permits before breaking ground last year, it lacked other certifications. Specifically there have been questions raised about the fire safety of the building, which was designed to hold 30,000 people.
Local officials in Changsha now stress that until Sky City completes all government procedures, including being certified by the “National Super-Tall Review Commission,” the tower cannot be built.