Luxury homes gifted by Chinese tycoon sit empty as greedy villagers row over ownership

Drinks magnate left frustrated after donating US$32 million to pay for 258 houses for residents of his hometown

PUBLISHED : Tuesday, 27 March, 2018, 5:22pm
UPDATED : Tuesday, 27 March, 2018, 5:23pm

A Chinese tycoon who paid for hundreds of luxury homes to be built for the residents of his hometown has been left dumbfounded by their greed and ingratitude, according to a local newspaper report.

Chen Sheng, the founder and chairman of drinks company Tiandi No 1 Beverage Inc, put up 200 million yuan (US$31.9 million) for the construction of 258 luxury villas on land provided by local authorities in the village of Guanhu, Guangdong province, five years ago, Southern Metropolis Daily reported.

Each property covers 280 square metres, has five bedrooms, two reception rooms, a garage and a small garden. The development also features a stream with a bridge over it, basketball and badminton courts, and even a stage for hosting traditional operas.

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However, although the homes have been ready to move into since the end of last year, they remain unoccupied because of squabbling between villagers over who should get one, or even two.

The report did not say how the properties had initially been allocated, but Chen was quoted as saying that he based the number required on a 2013 census, which said there were 190 households in the village.

Despite there being an oversupply of almost 70 homes, in the years that followed the announcement of the plan, more and more people came forward staking claims to them, with several villagers saying they needed more than one to accommodate their growing families.

The villagers’ reaction to his magnanimous gesture left Chen disheartened.

“As soon as I went back to the village, everyone started making all kinds of demands,” he said. “So I don’t go back any more.”

The report said he has not been back to Guanhu for two years.

In an earlier report, Chen was quoted as saying that as well as building the villas, he would also plant lychee orchards and a large pig farm close to the development to create more than 100 jobs for the community.

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The businessman and benefactor even said that the meat processing company he owned would buy the pigs reared on the farm, guaranteeing a market for them.

“Within four years, the villagers’ average income will be 200,000 yuan a year, so they won’t have to worry about houses or their children’s education,” he said.

The report said that the village committee will hold a meeting of all residents in a bid to find a way forward for the project.