THE uniqueness of the Bank of China building, one of the most prestigious on Shanghai's famous Bund, is making it difficult to value for rental purposes. Hong Kong's Chung Sen Surveyors, has been given the job of valuing the property in an effort to determine the rent for potential corporate clients. The Bank of China building, once the bank's headquarters, is one of 37 buildings city officials have earmarked for such valuation work. Mark Staples, senior valuation manager with Chung Sen Surveyors, said the building had a 17-storey tower in front and an eight-storey tower behind, giving it 'a church-like appearance'. 'Shanghai officials said there are some historical features they would like the company that leases it to maintain,' he said. Turning the building into a modern office as well as maintaining its historical features would be a challenge, he said. Shanghai officials were hopeful that whoever rented the building would pay for the refurbishment and help restore the building to its original glory. 'The hardest thing about doing such a valuation is that the building is so unique.' Mr Staples said it was difficult to gauge what people would be prepared to pay to lease or buy the space, and a premium had to be put on the site. The Bank of China building has undergone numerous changes since its glory days in the 1930s when it was home to as many as 15 state enterprises. Mr Staples said the building was in fairly good repair and, with gross area of about 400,000 square feet, was bigger than its counterpart in Hong Kong. Chung Sen is one of the companies carrying out the valuation for the prestigeous buildings on the Bund. Mr Staples said the valuation project was an important step in Shanghai's move to the financial world's centre stage because it showed China was moving to a more Western style of valuation and was adapting to a market-style economy. During the 1920s and 1930s, Shanghai was the colonial, the cultural, and the economic heart of Asia. 'It was the Wall Street of Asia,' Mr Staples said. 'They want to develop Shanghai into a world financial centre to rival London or New York, and to help it become once again the financial epicentre of Asia that it was in the 1930s,' he said.