Holland Village makes way for housing project

PUBLISHED : Monday, 16 November, 2009, 12:00am
UPDATED : Monday, 16 November, 2009, 12:00am

After languishing for six years on the outskirts of Shenyang in Liaoning province, Holland Village, the huge aborted theme park development, is gearing up for new life as a mega residential project under its new owner, China Overseas Land and Investment.

The mainland developer now plans a large high-end residential project valued at more than 10 billion yuan (HK$11.35 billion). The new project, comprising a total gross floor area of 3.1 million square metres, will be built on two adjacent sites among 13 plots that were originally offered for tender by the Shenyang government in September.

'The two plots of land we bought are the two biggest among the 13 sites, accounting for a major part of the whole area,' said a management executive of China Overseas Land.

The resurrected Holland Village project would now be raised on the two sites and would be primarily a residential project, but might also include a small area for commercial use, he said.

In April, the Shenyang government demolished almost all of the earlier construction of what was to become the Holland Village development, including a full-size replica of the Peace Palace in the Hague, windmills, castles, a Venice water park, a zoo and vacation villas.

The demolition released 200 million sqmetres of land in 13 plots for public sale. The government hoped to find a white knight to revive the development, which was aborted after its initial developer, Yang Bin, was jailed for illegal business activities for 18 years in 2003.

Yang's dream of converting his orchid farm into a Holland-style village included proposals to build 66 residential blocks of four to 10 storeys, 180 vacation villas, a three-storey European shopping complex, a five-star hotel, a theme park, canals, fountains and even fake Roman ruins.

However, the project, into which Yang had sunk 1.6 billion yuan by early 2002, ran out of funds. His overstretched expansion plans put the project in the spotlight, with increasingly negative reports exposing doubtful dealings between his Hong Kong-listed firm Euro-Asia Agricultural (Holdings) and his private business interests in Holland Village.

Yang was eventually placed under house arrest in Shenyang in October 2002. This came a month after he was appointed by North Korean leader Kim Jong-il as the chief executive of a proposed special economic zone in Sinuiju, across the Yalu River from the Chinese city of Dandong.

He was placed under formal arrest a month later and in July 2003 was sentenced to 18 years in prison and ordered to pay a fine of 2.3 million yuan for illegal use of agricultural land, fraud, false accounting and bribery.

China Overseas Land said it had no plans to maintain the Netherlands concept in the new development, but the developer promised it would be one of the architectural landmarks in the city when completed in about six years' time.

'It will be a brand new development,' said the executive. 'Its design will not be affected by the old one. But it will be a key development project in the city in terms of size, development scale and quality.'

Together with the land cost of 3.51 billion yuan and an estimated construction cost of more than six billion yuan, total investment would be more than 10 billion yuan, he said.

'Average cost of land is about 1,100 yuan per square metre, but the average selling price of completed units nearby is about 6,000 yuan per square metre.'

New lease of life

China Overseas Land's luxury development will cost, in yuan: 10b yuan