Park View Dingshan

By Bryan • china, nanjing, personal, urban planning • 22 May 2008

The Park View Dingshan Hotel (丁山花园大酒店)is another Nanjing real estate anomaly and easily as puzzling as the Greenland Financial Center. An afore mentioned warning…the following is written by someone who hasn’t got a clue what he is talking about and is really just a bunch of mush observations backed up by hardly any evidence thrashed together in an effort to create some sort of thought or understanding. Basically it is going to sound like another crappy blog entry. “Oh wow…look at this interesting thing…I wonder why….?” or some other poorly writing nonsense that tries to make up for the fact that it isn’t really conveying any new information or idea.

Yeah, I’m being hard on myself…probably because I’ve been reading a lot of stuff recently from the heavy hitting china bloggers. Their stuff is fantastic – well written, relevant, informative and most importantly, informed. The best bloggers are semi-journalistic in their postings…hunting down new events, releasing different angled perspectives and backing it all up…usually. A lot of them have themes…which I don’t. Most of these guys are connected as well within the business, academic, media and expat/China world…which in this region of the globe = big time credibility. I’m in education…this is easily the last profession one wants to find themselves in while working in China if they want to be taken seriously…blogging or otherwise…by both locals and the international community. Another teacher blog from a foreigner living in China is hardly an interesting event or even worth wasting a linking moment on.

I guess with about a month left in my China adventure I’m having those last minute regrets everyone feels when they are running the last 100 meters of a particular stage in their life. “Why didn’t I do that? Why didn’t I meet more people? Why isn’t my Mandarin kick-ass? Why do I have essentially zero connections after four years? Why do I know so few people? Did I travel enough? Why the hell am I jealous of those guys who hang out in the bars in Nanjing and know EVERYONE? Oh…I’m also jealous of those disgustingly good blogs….

Grrr……

Future goal – get some damn connections…and credibility is good too!

Dingshan Hotel…it is an architecturally pleasing hotel in Nanjing sunk into the side of a small hill…with probably the best first floor view of Nanjing’s skyline. If you are not familiar with Nanjing, well, apologies for a discussion of an abstract concept…I recommend that your time is better spent in the galleries…you might actually find some good photos in there :-P. If repetitive landscape photography doesn’t spin you hat, you can always try something awful or for the more media related, some onion skins.

There are a lot of hotels in Nanjing, with some well known names including Sheraton, Sofitel, Ramada, Jinling etc. Most are sandwiched into higher density environments around Xinjiekou or Shaanxi Lu, but Sofitel has the Zhongshan adjacent to their golf course straddling the foot of Purple Mountain…a slight detour from within-the-Ming Wall Nanjing.

Typical of downtown environments, the big H’s in Nanjing don’t amount to much more than concrete, glass, and steel behemoths. Don’t get me wrong…all are extremely nice inside and the top views of the city are killer at night as is the feeling of hanging out in their bars, restaurants and coffee house (I’m still remain a pig-in-the-city at heart)…but if one considers lush characteristics…not one building within the Ming Walls even approaches the Park View Dingshan.

Why am I concerned about this place? Probably because I’ve been working behind it for two years. It’s rather unique when placed in the context of a provincial Chinese city. I was just there today for coffee when I discovered the insane city view from the first floor. This observation dove-tails nicely into the fact that the Dingshan is sitting on what could potentially be the BEST real estate in Nanjing. The enigma emerges when one is informed that half the hotel remains unfinished (for at least the past four years at least) is entered into the equation…as well as the observation that it is built on what looks like four hectares of untouched and unutilized greenspace (in an urban environment).

It is just another bizarre urban phenomenon.

What’s the deal? Similar to the Greenland Plaza, I have no bloody clue.

Possibilities include:

  • Parkview has a rock-solid lease with what ever government body controls this parcel of land and their guanxi with this body is equally rock-solid.
  • This government body could easily be military, given the close proximity of the 14th Research Group – a state-owned defense contractor, specializing in radar developments…they also involve themselves with mass-transit too. You know what they say; a healthy military industrial complex is a diverse military industrial complex.
  • Whatever government entity, it is clear that they wish the unused land to remain undeveloped and tolerate the presence of a half empty, underutilized hotel (did I mention they have a very good looking driving range as well? And a outdoor swimming pool?)
  • Business could be stellar and profits are rolling in = the ability to justify such huge amounts of land.
  • Business could be terrible = cannot authorize the completion of the remaining half of the building = We’ll keep up the building anyway because it represents a development, which means it increases the bargaining power of whatever land master holds the rights. Doesn’t matter if it makes profit…it is a tangible body on the land thus strengthening ability to hold the land.
  • The land could very well be relatively cheap. A problem with the Dingshan is that is that in Nanjing terms, it is located in the middle of nowhere. Hotel + crappy relative location = maybe not the best…unless you have a 18 hole Gary Player designed golf course…I’m looking at you, Zhongshan Sofitel. Possibly no one wants it. Park View could be desperately trying to unload the property.
  • Park View Dingshan Hotel - Nanjing

(Terrible net photo as I didn’t have my camera today – The entire right side remains empty and unfinished. The landscape extends behind the hotel and down to the right corner of the hotel including a driving range, swimming pool and a relatively heaviliy forested park. The modern-Sino architecture creates possibly the most unique and locally inspired design in Nanjing.)

It is just odd. Dingshan is the nicest looking building in Nanjing. On the nicest piece of land albeit in a mediocre location… but the former Hilton suffers from a less-than-great location, which is way the out on Zhongshan Dong Lu…but I assume future access to line 3 of the metro will slightly mitigate this handicap. Even when considering the location, there should instinctively be more going on at Dingshan.

MS Word just clocked this entry in at 1000 words. Not bad considering I was stood up for dinner and now find myself writing this in a bar surrounded by foreign pricks showing off their Mandarin.

The damn bar-girl wouldn’t even respond to my mandarin-spoken bill request in Chinese.

Do I sound bitter today?

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3 Responses

  1. Lucinda

    You really do make some strong points in favor of the Dingshan, Bryan! Nice research :)

  2. Sue Crosby

    It is a beautiful building ——-quite a mystery. You’d think it would be hoopin’

    Have a good weekend!

  3. Yeah, it is a shame to see that whole area just waste away. It looks amazing right now – very green. I wasn’t aware that it had an outdoor pool either. You should check out the view from the coffee house there – really good.

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