The Shanghai government is trying to orchestrate the buyout of a twin-tower hotel project. The matching buildings are designed to house two ultra-luxury hotels, a Chinese interpretation of Dubai’s sail-shaped Jumeirah Burj Al Arab (seen here)and a top-end Conrad, a Hilton Hotels brand.
They are unfinished and the financing is uncertain.
Late last year, just as workers were erecting latticework exteriors and linking the 30-floor towers with a sky-bridge, the project’s primary investor, businessman Leo KoGuan, ordered a project review and left China.
Questions directed to Mr. Leo were addressed in a statement from the Beijing offices of public-relations firm Fleishman-Hillard and by a spokeswoman at Fleishman-Hillard, who says she has never met or spoken with Mr. Leo.
One statement said delays stem from cost overruns, a project budget review and other contractual issues, not Mr. Leo’s financial position or commitment to the hotels.
A person familiar with Mr. Leo’s thinking says that ‘money is not the issue’ but that he doesn’t feel a rush to complete the hotels. Which seems more than passing strange.
For Shanghai, the project in the city’s ritzy Xintiandi zone may be too big to fail. It blights the skyline ahead of China’s biggest coming event, a World Expo, next May.
WSJ Online reported the the stalled hotel project got underway in 2005.
Later, Mr. Leo hired a team of foreign advisers to assess costs and address other concerns, putting the brakes on construction, according to government officials and other people familiar with the matter. Mr. Leo left Shanghai himself.
Jumeirah said in a statement it ‘hopes’ to open this year, while Conrad anticipates a first-half 2010 launch. The most probable outcome is because of the looming Expo a way will be found to finish the project — whoever the eventual owner might be.