Owner of luxury floating villa sues after officials order demolition

PUBLISHED : Monday, 11 April, 2011, 12:00am
UPDATED : Monday, 11 April, 2011, 12:00am


The owner of an extravagant floating villa is suing Shenzhen authorities over demolition of the project after negotiations over legal issues broke down last month.

Guo Kuizhang, owner of the Sea Palace, said on Saturday that he had requested a hearing over the government's decision to recall the fishery licence he was issued in February and to demolish the structure earlier this month.

Guo, a real estate developer, said he resorted to legal means after repeated efforts seeking clarification with authorities were unfruitful.

He and his company, Shenzhen Sea Elites Entertainment, issued an open letter on Saturday questioning the authorities' decision.

'We are helpless, faced with the demolition in an innovative, welldeveloped and tolerant city such as Shenzhen,' the letter said.

Local authorities ordered demolition of the Sea Palace, built on rafts and floating on Dongshan Bay in Nanao town, on Friday, saying it occupied a sea area without proper permits.

The villa, which was turned into a private club with an indoor swimming pool, was about 50 kilometres from downtown Shenzhen. First built in 2003, it expanded and covered 3 square kilometres a year later. Expansion continued over the years at a total cost of almost 100 million yuan. But in 2004, media reports focused authorities' attention on its construction.

The demolition continued yesterday, and authorities barred reporters from the site, saying the structure was unsafe. The Southern Metropolis News reported yesterday that some of the villa's roof tiles were removed by workers wearing life jackets.

The villa had 39 anchors, each weighing a tonne and supported by more than 3,000 foam cushions, allowing it to remain an island-like structure on seawater, according to local media reports. Visits to the villa were by invitation only. Guests blogged about its luxury - expensive furnishings, antiques and even a small horse-breeding farm.

But in 2006, Shenzhen authorities started looking at the complex as the Sea Palace filed an application to the local fisheries administration for a permit to occupy the sea area to 'develop leisure fishing'. The application was denied.

An investigation launched last year found the Sea Palace was occupying sea area illegally. Demolition was ordered in May but was forestalled. Despite the issuing of a fishery permit in February, tax officials found that the villa's taxation certificate had expired. The fishery permit was cancelled last month, opening the way for Friday's demolition.