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March 1, 2011

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'Mystery' of plush unit in backwater

A REAL estate developer insists there is no "mystery" surrounding a heavily guarded luxury complex built in a remote area of the city.

The three buildings in a green area in Sanlin Town, Pudong New Area, puzzled locals as no one knew their purpose.

Residents say the high-end architecture seems out of place in an area which can boast neither a cinema nor high-end hotel.

While locals say they were told the buildings would be a community center, the complex's iron doors have never opened to them in the two years since it was built.

There are also tight security measures, with surveillance cameras and guards to prevent people taking photographs or venturing too close.

Some residents questioned whether the town government was abusing public land and funds to build a luxury club for officials.

But developer Xu Jian, CEO of Sanlin Town Real Estate Development Co, says the complex is intended to bring businesses to the area.

"It's a complete misunderstanding," said Xu, who owns the buildings and claimed that the company financed the constructions.

Xu told Shanghai Daily that the complex was built as a mini business hub with office buildings and entertainment venues to attract investors to the town.

Over the past two years, they have been trying to persuade big companies to locate there, he said.

Tight security was required to deter thieves, said Xu.

"Without better facilities, why would the investors come to a remote town where they could barely find a cafe?" asked Xu.

He produced paperwork showing the project was approved by the National Development and Reform Commission.

Xu's comments were echoed by town government official Wu Zhijun, who believes the buildings will help boost the town economy.

According to Wu, Sanlin Town contributed a lot to the World Expo 2010 through providing land, but paid a heavy price as many companies had to be relocated.

The loss of industries left the town in a situation where it didn't have the money to improve its infrastructure, while the lack of infrastructure prevented other companies from coming in, he said.

Wu feared such a "death cycle" could lead to the bankruptcy of the small town and welcomed the hope brought by the mini hub.


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