Business Irish

Wednesday 13 December 2017

Treasury's Eco City stuck on drawing board after six years

Ambitious Chinese project scheduled to open this year awaits final sign-off

Emmet Oliver

ONE of Treasury Holdings' largest ever foreign projects, at Eco City, in Shanghai, remains on the drawing board six years after the company signed an agreement to develop the site.

In November 2004, Treasury signed a joint venture agreement with a branch of the Shanghai government to plan and develop Eco City at Chongming Island, but final sign-off on the project is still awaited.

Eco City was to include about 4.2 million sqm of mixed accommodation on a site of 1,000 hectares. The project effectively forms an entire new city suburb for Shanghai.

"Embracing the latest technologies, the development will also be a world leader in sustainable, environmentally responsible construction,'' Treasury said at the time.

Treasury and other contractors were ultimately to be involved in building a site with 18,000 houses, three town centres, offices, two 18-hole golf courses and an equestrian centre. The site was meant to open in time for this year's World Expo in Shanghai, which began in May.

Eco City is designed to be one of the most environmentally friendly cities in the world, with low carbon emissions and sustainability to the fore. But as of now most of the land where the site is due to sprout up is actually being tended by local farmers.

Promotion

Ex-British prime minister Tony Blair and Bertie Ahern were heavily involved in promoting the project.

In 2004, the then Taoiseach said it was a "most exciting development, which highlights the mutual benefit of co-operation between Irish and Chinese companies''.

Treasury declined to comment yesterday, simply saying the project was awaiting government approval.

The company is currently in talks with NAMA over its future. The related company Real Estate Opportunities (REO) is also in talks with NAMA, and it has already had some of its loans extended, relieving some of the pressure on the company.

After waiting for many years, this week saw Treasury's Convention Centre Dublin opening, giving the company a fresh income stream.

The arrangement is a public- private partnership and Treasury had to fund its construction upfront. It will make a profit only if the centre hits certain targets.

The Eco City project is in many ways out of the company's hands. The Irish Independent understands the Shanghai authorities need central Chinese government approval for the project because of its size.

A series of approvals is required and it is not known when these will be granted.

Irish Independent

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