Standoffs between developers and property owners in China are usually grim affairs almost always ending the same way: demolition. One holdout in the southern city Shenzhen is scoring a rare–but perhaps mixed–victory after fending off the bulldozers for more than a dozen years.
Developer Shenzhen Xiafeilong Real Estate has given up knocking down a three-story building belonging to unidentified owners in the city’s Luohu district, according to state-owned China News Service.
Photographs online show the water-stained facade of the three-story building, juxtaposed against newer high-rise apartments that are more than 20-stories high.
Resistance by homeowners to development usually draws sympathy from ordinary Chinese, who often complain that local governments in their zeal for growth and revenues favor developers and ignore property rights. Holdouts like the Shenzhen building have become popular symbols of resistance, known as “nail houses” because they stick out like nails from a flat surface, such as a razed construction site for example.
“The fact that the government decides you’re going to move and the price you’re going to accept as compensation results in nail houses. It’s a form of negotiation tactic, or sometimes, an act of civil disobedience,” said Michael Cole, a property market observer and founder of real estate website Mingtiandi.com.
Xiafeilong, the developer, couldn’t be reached for comment, nor could the owner or owners of the nail house, who weren’t identified in media reports or in a government statement on the matter.
The three-story building appears to be mostly for residential use, with a computer repair shop at a corner storefront, according to photos and media accounts. A female employee answering the phone at the computer repair shop said she wasn’t aware of any demolition plans or faced any pressure to move.
China News Service said the landlord and the developer spent years on legal battles after they couldn’t agree on compensation for the demolition in 2000.
Xiafeilong initially wanted to build a high-rise apartment and offered the owner an apartment in the new development as compensation, according to Shenzhen Business News. The owner demurred as he wanted cash compensation or another home in a nearby complex, the Shenzhen Business News said in a 2014 article.
In 2013, the space around the nail house became a car park for residents in the surrounding residential towers, China News Service said. The Shenzhen government’s Internet Information Office, in a posting on its official social media account, said the developer realized that the nail house “did not impact its main development, so it simply stopped asking.
”Unlike previous nail-house standoffs, support online was more mixed. Some praised the outcome. “This shows that Shenzhen is civilized, unlike other places,” said a web user on the comments section following pictures of the nail house hosted by Tencent Holdings.
Others, however, saw it as an example of the landlord’s bad timing or greed. Prices for apartments and land in Shenzhen have soared by more than 60% on a year-over-year basis in recent months.
“The nail-house owner has a heart which not content like a snake that wants to swallow an elephant,” said another web-user. “Why could other parties come to an agreement but not you?
”A hotpot restaurant owner in a nearby building said it’s a blow to the neighborhood. “It would be better to demolish the building and build something modern so that it can drive more economic development in the area. Right now it’s an eyesore,” said the shop owner, who declined to give his name.
The government’s Internet Information Office gave its own assessment, citing an unidentified–and perhaps fictitious–web user: “The owner of the nail-house weeps in the toilet.”
Source: In China, One Nail House Doesn’t Get Hammered – China Real Time Report – WSJ