Sichuan tower block the height of controversy

PUBLISHED : Friday, 29 June, 2012, 12:00am
UPDATED : Friday, 29 June, 2012, 12:00am


A controversial Sichuan commercial centre built on the site of a school funded by Hong Kong donations that was torn down has exceeded height limits and caused mayhem at a local airport.

Mianyang airport has had to cancel all night flights and reroute daytime flights since April 23 because the 32-storey Fucheng Wanda Plaza near the runway poses a safety threat.

Mianyang's city government has already ordered the plaza's developer, Dalian Wanda Commercial Properties, to remove some of the storeys of the project, which is still under construction.

Fucheng Wanda Plaza hit the headlines in Hong Kong last month after it was revealed that the Mianyang Bauhinia Ethnic Secondary School - built only two years ago using HK$4 million in donations from Hong Kong - was demolished to make way for it. The Hong Kong government subsequently demanded the return of the HK$2 million it provided.

The donations were part of Hong Kong's contribution to the reconstruction of Sichuan after a devastating earthquake in 2008.

A spokeswoman for Mianyang's foreign affairs office, Yao Hui, said yesterday the city government had urged Wanda to demolish the floors exceeding height clearance requirements because the building affected airport flight paths.

'Our aviation department has had to adjust part of its daytime take-off and landing operations and cancel night flights,' she said.

'The Mianyang government has decided to solve the aviation problem, and the demolition order should be implemented as soon as possible.'

Yao did not specify how many floors should be removed. Mainland newspaper Time Weekly said the developer was told to remove 10 storeys.

But Dalian Wanda spokesman Liu Mingsheng said yesterday the company had done nothing wrong and was still considering how to respond.

'Wanda group would not make such a stupid mistake because we are a professional and experienced property developer, with all our building designs, construction schedules and other details being submitted to relevant government departments for approval,' he said.

'We haven't made any decision yet as our managing directors who are in charge of this project are still negotiating with local officials to try to find out which part we got wrong.'

According to Wanda's online brochure, the company invested 6 billion yuan (HK$7.36 billion) in the 7.5-hectare project, which has luxury homes, hotels and shopping malls.

Yao refused to identify which government department was to blame for approving the project.