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Inside the World's Largest Ghost Mall

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What happens when you build a giant mall and nobody comes? That's what they're finding out in Dongguan, China at the New South China Mall.

Bloomberg takes a look at the current largest mall in the world--which, by all accounts, has been a disaster. It's been mostly empty since it opened and this short segment shows what the center looks like on its "busiest" day of the week and why it's had so many issues.

We wrote about the problems at the mall and other Chinese behemoths three years ago.

Here's what we wrote then:

The problems are manifold. Since the South China Mall is situated in a suburb, it is borderline inaccessible to the vast majority of Chinese residents who don't have cars. (There are only 11.5 million cars owned by individuals in all of China.) To say the least, foot traffic has not been brisk. A Bloomberg News account of the property in mid-April described the mall as “almost deserted.” The property's planners anticipated 100,000 shoppers a day would pass through the property. But a mall spokesperon acknowledged that foot traffic is currently just one-tenth that amount.

What's more, observers say, the property has a patched together feel and violates many of the fundamentals of mall design — some laid down at the dawn of the mall era. “You see corridors with blind spots hiding tenants,” explains Ross Glickman, chairman and CEO of Urban Retail Properties in Chicago. “You see corridors ending in walls.”

With the mall struggling so much two years after its opening, some wonder if it will ever live up to the initial hype. (For its part, Dongguan San Yuan says the mall is still in a “development phase” and expects its sales performance to improve.)

Sounds like things haven't changed. At all.

(Hat tip to Coy Davidson, who tweeted the link a few minutes a go.)

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Elaine Misonzhnik

Senior associate editor Elaine Misonzhnik has been writing for National Real Estate Investor since June 2006 and has covered commercial real estate for more than 12 years. She first became...
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