China Off-The-Beaten Path: The Loneliest Mall in the World

28 01 2012

It was supposed to be the largest mall in the world – three times as large as the Mall of America in Minnesota (currently the largest in the U.S.). Scheduled for launch in 2005, in a Southern city of Dongguan, the New South China Mall was going to set a new “benchmark in the mall grandiosity” with space for over 2,300 stores catering to over 70,000 shoppers each day.

2005 came and went. The mall was built and launched. However, the stores and shoppers never quite materialized as projected. As of now, there are just under two dozen stores occupying the total area of 9.6 million square feet – putting the vacancy rate at over 99%! And even then, most of them are Western food chains like McDonalds, KFC and Pizza Hut who got the locations near the entrances.

The mall – designed to target the Chinese growing middle class who are getting more and more used to Western-style shopping – was certainly an ambitious undertaking. It was funded by a millionaire who made his fortune selling instant noodles in China. His team traveled the world for 2 years in search of ideas to make the mall unique. The end result was a mammoth of a mall that includes, among other things, a 25 metre replica of the Arc de Triomphe, a replica of Venice’s St Mark’s bell tower, a 2.1 kilometres canal with gondolas, and a 553-meter indoor-outdoor roller coaster as a part of an amusement park designed to keep the kids busy while the parents shop.

The developers still have a very positive outlook and are currently actively working on expanding it even further.

Inside Look

For lease signs hanging from the ceilings

Escalators are temporarily suspended

One of the thousands empty, never-used storefronts

A bicycle parked next to an escalator

Empty shopping floor - devoid of shops or visitors

One of the few storefronts that is apparently getting ready for the busy season.

A security guard making his rounds.

Floors upon floors of retail space.

Somehow, the photo and the caption just doesn't quite match.


The Mall Outdoors

Gondolas are parked, waiting for their riders.

A Venice-style canal was built to provide a European feel for the shoppers.

Sinister-looking statues line the entire way of the canal.


Valet parking. Next to an empty Lexus dealership.

View from the above.

I don't know what's more amazing. The fact that the construction is still going on to add extra space or that the entire thing is done using bamboo.

For the Kids

The largest indoor family entertainment center in China with unlimited excitation at any circumstance. I am sold!

Indoor-outdoor roller coaster. Running absolutely empty.

For all of that unlimited excitement at any circumstances, I didn't see a lot of people taking advantage of it.

Probably the most creepy part in the entire mall!

Somebody converted a floor of a parking lot into a Go-Kart racing track.



3 responses

29 01 2012

Ааах, впечатляет как!
От фоток просто мурашки…
Хочется заполнить их человечками, шумом, суетой.

29 01 2012

Wow. I should probably visit. I grew up in the city that built the then-largest mall in the world (Edmonton, Canada) and then lived in Minneapolis-St. Paul and was even a maid of honor at a wedding inside the Mall of America — so I know my mega-malls!

30 01 2012
Alex M

lol. two words: market research.

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