Thursday, April 19, 2007

Cloud 9 Ghost Mall

Shanghai is in a construction bubble, fueled by anticipation of a continued meteoric growth in city population and wealth. The flip side to the incredible amount of construction going on is a very high vacancy rate, particularly with upper-end apartments and shopping malls.

This update will look at Zhongshan Park's Cloud 9 mall, although there's plenty of other examples. It's actually got a much better location than many of the other ghost malls, being located in what's a fairly crowded, fairly recent district of large apartment buildings. It's built directly over a busy subway station, and actually the basement level is fairly crowded. There's clothes stalls, an unpopular electronics chain, a popular Pizza Hut, and in the far corner is a Japanese-esque noodle chain that is so terrible and overpriced, I don't know how it has chains all over the city.

The basement level also has a Carrefour. It's a French megastore, something like Target or Wal-Mart, and is always spectacularly crowded.

The mall is only about a year old, and the insides are clean and brightly lit. It's full of shops, mostly clothing brands. Maybe this picture gives the idea: most of the brands in the mall are international, well-known, solid brands, although perhaps not the most elite or upscale.

It's a hard thing to show, but each floor is very large. They're not entirely centered around the big escalators, there's also long hallways that go off in two directions, with shops lining each hallway:

I hope the angled photograph gives the unsettling "28 Days Later" feeling - looking at the above two pictures there's not a person in sight, well aside from a cleaning lady. There's a definite eeriness to being in a well-lit mall with shops on all sides and not having a single non-salesperson around - particularly when it takes place in a city of twenty million people. No trick photography was involved, I didn't sneak in right before closing, etc. It really always looks like this!

There's a little more activity to be seen. On the top two floors are some restaurants, many of them serving Korean or Japanese food. A few of them do get very crowded.

The sad part of the story is, Shanghai has ghost-mall after ghost-mall, and more continue to be built. If they were off in places I don't care about, I suppose that wouldn't mean much to me, but recently Wujiang Lu Food Street was shuttered, to make room for the development of a new ghost mall. I guess it's meant to match the ghost mall across the street, or perhaps the ghost malls a mile down the road!

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