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November 17, 2009

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Terms met, at last, on flattened flats

NO lawsuit, at last.

Owners of 21 flats in a toppled building in a Minhang District complex decided on a resolution to a four-month-long exhausting and sometimes angry negotiation on the compensations.

Ten owners decided to exchange for unsold apartments in the same residential area, the Lotus Riverside complex, while the other 11 chose to get a full refund, according to agreements made over the weekend.

The developer also made a concession by adding 1,099 yuan (US$161) more compensation for each square meter to all 41 households in the unfinished building that collapsed on June 27, killing one worker, because of improper earth excavation practices.

"I am exhausted," said Gu Yunbiao, a buyer in the toppled building and also a representative of many other buyers. "Some of us just hate to see the talks drag on again and again."

Gu on Sunday decided to withdraw from the contract and get a buyout of his apartment.

In September, however, Gu and the other 20 buyers, threatened to sue the Shanghai Meidu Real Estate Co, the developer, who has been suspended from further real estate operations by the district government.

The complex originally had 629 apartments in 11 buildings, with real estate giant Vanke Co Ltd now taking over the whole complex for further construction and sales.

According to the compensation plans released by the original developer in July, the buyers in the toppled building could get a buyout based on new evaluations in August or purchase another apartment in the complex at a discount, No additional compensation was reported then.

Owners of units in undamaged buildings could stay and receive a rebate or take a buyout.

Gu said he would receive nearly 700,000 yuan of compensation for his 127-square-meter apartment on the 11th floor.

His apartment was valued at 19,400 yuan per square meter based on the market on August 13, a 28 percent jump in the price since he initially bought the apartment at 15,150 yuan per square meter in March.

Now, he will get another 139,573 yuan because of the newly agreed additional compensation.

Among the 41 owners who bought the apartments in the toppled building, 20 made their choices earlier. To date, 18 have chosen to leave and 23 will stay.

By the end of October, 352 buyers out of the 411 households in the remaining undamaged buildings decided to stay in their contracts; 59 pulled out, said authorities.

However, it's not all over.

There were still 38 undecided owners who have apartments in a building that shifted a few centimeters because it was near the one that toppled. They don't have to make a choice until work to shore up their building is done.


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