Guangzhou R&F: Back from the brink, September 9
Guangzhou R&F made countless aggressive purchases as it sought to swell its land bank while the real estate market was at its peak. This expansion was largely funded by debt. When the market imploded last year, R&F struggled to keep up with its payments and, according to some reports at the time, teetered on the brink of bankruptcy. The company was bailed out by domestic banks and its eyes are now no longer bigger than its stomach. Back in 2008, R&F executives explained how they were participating in a plan to develop a new CBD in the city. Then came the downturn and the company was forced to confront the reality of poor demand and plunging rental prices. The fundamental factors driving Guangzhou’s long-term growth remain more or less the same, but the trials of 2008 make for an interesting study of how R&F managed to dig itself into a hole – and why the local government, which has a clear interest in the company’s fortunes, probably pushed the banks to bail it out.
Shanghai’s ready! September 16
Everyone is getting ready for the 60th anniversary of the founding of the People’s Republic on October 1. Of course, while it’s a national celebration, it would be unlike Shanghai to let Beijing take all the glory. But not being the sort of place that thrives on military parades, Shanghai is getting ready in its own way. In this case, "its own way" means a weapons-grade searchlight installation putting on psychedelic light shows after sundown. The searchlights have been placed on the tops of buildings in a development considered by the Shanghai government to be something of a model of urban redevelopment: What used to be Shanghai’s largest slum along its largest open sewer is now a string of comfortable residential high-rise blocks along a slowly recovering creek. The light display is clearly meant to draw attention to the area – it can be seen miles away – and is awe-inspiring in its way. "Better City, Better Life," indeed.