Developing Shanghai’s North Bund

Wednesday, July 8, 2009 2:11
Posted in category Invest in China

Over the past week I had the opportunity to survey what is known collectively as Shanghai’s ‘North Bund’ project site and adjacent project sites.  I had not visited that area of Shanghai in quite a while so I read up a bit before the trek.

Anyone involved in Shanghai real estate these days, especially on the commercial side is aware of the objective to complete all major projects prior to the opening of the 2010 World Expo, and it seems like practically the entire bund on the Puxi side around the city center is one big construction site.  So my visit to the north bund area was intended, in part, to evaluate the progress of different sites to try to determine if they will hit the completion target which is less than 12 months away.

Cruise Terminal:

The cruise terminal was initially intended to be able to host ocean going passenger vessles operated by companies such as Star Cruises, Costa Crociere and Royal Caribbean Cruises ferrying passengers between Japan, Hong Kong/Macau and Shanghai.  And while the Huangpu River is certainly deep enough for these ships, the problem is that the Nanpu Bridge to the north sits too low, which prevents the larges ships in these lines from reaching the terminal.  See the related link for more:

http://www.npr.org/templates/story/story.php?storyId=96510518

The main gate of the 165,000 square meter site that is the Shanghai Passenger Cruise Terminal is located on the north side of Suzhou Creek along Da Ming Lu.  The entire kilometer-long site is situated between Da Ming Lu and the Huangpu River which, essentially creating an extension of the walking promenade on the south side of Suzhou Creek, although there is not direct link.

As of today, the entire site has been landscaped with grass and mature trees supported by the omnipresent four-extra-legs sounding all newly planted trees in Shanghai.  Within the site there is a 10-meter high footbridge whose sole purpose is to allow one to climb to the top and view the surrounding area, which is quite a good idea. From this perspective on can view the 20-story office tower of the shanghai International Ports Group and the adjacent duck-egg shaped building that sits atop what appear to be legs.

The north portion of the site is where the action is located.  The landscaping is on-going but that is not the difficult party.  There are still 3 more 3-story buildings to be completed which do not yet have curtain walls in place.  My guess is that by this time next year, the curtain walls will be completed, the site will be fully landscaped and tourists will be frolicking on the site.

Bund 33 Park (old British Consulate General):

Located on the south bank of Suzhou Creek, the site is well-known as the former British Consulate General in old Shanghai.

During my visit to the project yesterday, I was encouraged to note that the newer buildings that border the site are largely completed and appear to be very close to being able to actually hand over to tenants.  The old consulate building itself remains shrouded in the omnipresent green protective hoarding that covers many older buildings undergoing renovation, making it impossible to identify the stage of progress.

That said, within the grounds themselves where piles of building materials which indicate to me that the building is being restored to its original grand state to serve the centerpiece of the project, creating a feeling not unlike that of the Ruijin Hotel complex on Ruijin Lu, where many foreign residents of Shanghai have sipped drinks on a late summer evening at the now defunct Face Bar.

Overall, the project appears to be on course to be operational within one year, assuming there are no issues that prevent whatever operator plans to run the place runs into in terms of operating licenses, etc.

Aside from these two major projects, scaffolding and hording appear all along Zhongshan Lu these days and I will plan to update this post within the next 6 months to track the progress (or lack thereof).

Zhou

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