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New skyscraper ready for its dizzying debut
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A visitor takes pictures on the 100th-floor observation deck of the 492-meter Shanghai World Financial Center yesterday. Boasting the world's highest rooftop and highest observation deck, the building will open to the public tomorrow, 14 years after the project's inauguration. [Shanghai Daily]

The world's third-tallest building and the newest addition to Shanghai's high-end office and hotel markets will open to the public tomorrow, 14 years after the project began.

But its owner, Minoru Mori, chairman of Mori Building Co Ltd, Japan's biggest private real estate developer, isn't complaining about the delays in finishing the Shanghai World Financial Center.

"I believe the building was completed at the best time, when China has opened its doors to the world for 30 years and the city is going to hold the World Expo soon in 2010," Mori told reporters yesterday through a translator. "We will contribute our part and help Shanghai build itself into a top financial center in Asia."

At US$3 per square meter rent per day, space in the building is pricey. But Mori said he is confident that the market will hold up, despite signs of trouble for some property developers.

"Total office space in Shanghai is not so large," he said. "There is not enough taking into account the business potential of the city."

"If you supply a good space, then the demand will follow."

The skyscraper is surpassed in height only by the Dubai Tower and Taipei 101 in Taiwan.

Tenants so far include top Japanese financial companies, such as Sumitomo Mitsui Banking Corp and Mizuho Corporate Banking Corp as well as BNP Paribas of France and Germany's Commerzbank AG.

Total investment in the 101-story, 492-meter-high landmark project, located in Pudong's Lujiazui Finance and Trade Zone, amounts to more than 8 billion yuan (US$1.16 billion). The company expects to recoup its investment in about 12 years, Hiro Mori, chairman of Shanghai World Financial Center Co Ltd, said yesterday. The building's current occupancy rate is about 45 percent, and the figure is expected to reach 90 percent in a year, he said.

The mega-development, the Japanese company's second project in Shanghai after the HSBC Tower, sits adjacent to the 88-story Jin Mao Building. It comprises a gross floor area of 381,600 square meters, including 226,900 square meters of grade-A office space and a Park Hyatt hotel, the highest hotel in the world, which will open in September.

The two high-rises and the 632-meter Shanghai Center that's scheduled for completion as early as 2013 will allow Shanghai to complete its plan for a triangle of super-skyscrapers on the east side of the Huangpu River.

At 2pm tomorrow, the world's highest observatory will be opened to the public in the SWFC. Other commercial facilities, such as a theater, shops and restaurants, will be launched in the future.

Mori decided to build the SWFC project in 1994 and began construction in 1997. However, the project was suspended in 1998 when the Asian financial crisis struck.

Construction resumed in 2003, but Mori had to redesign the skyscraper in 2005 after receiving complaints that a circular hole planned for the top of the building made the structure resemble a Japanese flag. The circle was later replaced by a square opening.

(Shanghai Daily August 29, 2008)


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