Disappointing photos show what can happen to billion-dollar mega-developments

Ryugyong Hotel under construction

In North Korea’s capital of Pyongyang, an empty, pyramidal tower looms over the city.

When construction began on the Ryugyong Hotel in 1987, the North Korean government envisioned it as a reflection of the government’s power and capabilities. At 985 feet tall, it would become the largest tower in the nation.

While the billion-dollar skyscraper has topped out, North Korea has mysteriously abandoned the project.

It’s not uncommon for megaprojects like the Ryugyong Hotel to go wrong, due to various reasons like massive budget and construction timeline overruns, botched designs, corruption, and failures to fill the units.

Let’s take a look at several megaprojects around the world that may have, to varying degrees, disappointed their cities

The expectation for China’s Yujiapu: A financial capital modeled after Manhattan.

From reports about the opening of a Lincoln Center spinoff to a rumored institute launching in partnership with the Julliard School, plans to create a financial district in Yujiapu, a coastal industrial zone in China’s Tianjin Binhai New Area, were inspired by Manhattan.

The district cost $30 billion to build, according to Forbes. When construction began in 2009, developers intended to turn Yujiapu into the world’s financial capital, filled with high-rise buildings, open spaces, and a high-speed train connecting the district to Beijing.

The reality: Abandoned buildings and a halt on construction.

Construction on the project came to a halt by 2014. At the time, Gao Fei of Centaline Property said the development was “a failure before it even started,” according to the South China Morning Post.

Little has changed since then: In February 2018, the Morning Post reported that some buildings look abandoned or are under construction, and others are only partly occupied.

According to the Morning Post, a high-speed rail has been built in Tianjin, but it has not prompted business growth in the area.

The expectation for Malaysia’s Forest City: A “dream paradise” filled with 70,000 people.

On four man-made Malaysian islands, Chinese developer Country Garden is building a huge new city. In one of the ads, the company bills it as “a dream paradise for all mankind.”

Called Forest City, the $100 billion metropolis will be able to accommodate 700,000 people by 2040, according to Country Garden. That’s about 20,000 more than the current population of Washington, DC — and it will have a density greater than Manhattan. 

In 2016, construction began on the city’s office buildings, parks, a transit network, hotels, restaurants, shops, schools, and 250,000 housing units.

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