The Costliest Construction Mistakes in the World

The Abandoned Skyscraper: Golden 117

In August 2008, a prominent company called Golden Financial started the construction of the 128-story, 1,957-foot-tall Golden 117 building in the city of Tianjin, China. This colossal structure was intended to house hotels, apartments, and commercial spaces, and it was equipped with an astounding 89 elevators, as well as swimming pools, luxury apartments, and even playing areas.

The Golden 117 was on its way to becoming the world’s fifth-largest building, with Golden Financial investing a staggering $10 billion in its construction. However, the project met a disastrous fate. In 2015, the Chinese government banned the building, as it violated the country’s regulations prohibiting structures taller than 1,640 feet. Once the Golden 117 reached its towering height of 1,957 feet, it became an illegal structure, leading the government to not only ban it but also impose hefty fines on the owners.

To this day, the Golden 117 remains untouched, with no permission granted for its use or reconstruction. It has even earned the Guinness World Record for being the tallest abandoned urban building in the world. Chinese daredevils now use the structure for climbing adventures, but the owners have lost a staggering $1 billion due to this single, costly mistake.

The Collapsing Bridge: Gaoligong Bridge

In August 2018, the Gaoligong Bridge was constructed in the city of Hualien, Taiwan, with the aim of connecting the Yuli Town villages to the city. This 0.5-kilometer-long bridge was built to provide easier access for the 15 villages located in the Yuli Town area, which were previously separated from the city by a river.

The construction of the Gaoligong Bridge took an entire year and cost millions of dollars. However, on September 19, 2022, two devastating earthquakes struck the region, causing the complete collapse of the bridge. The engineers had failed to incorporate any measures to withstand seismic activity, leaving the bridge vulnerable and unable to withstand the powerful tremors.

Fortunately, no lives were lost in this incident, but the government suffered a significant financial loss due to the collapse. For two years, the bridge remained in its damaged state, until recently, when the reconstruction process began, requiring the investment of additional millions of dollars. This event was truly a financial disaster, highlighting the importance of proper engineering and earthquake-resistant design in infrastructure projects.

The Failed Nuclear Power Plants: Vogtle Nuclear Generating Station

In 2008, two major firms in South Carolina, the South Carolina Electric & Gas Company and the Public Service Authority, joined forces to build two new nuclear reactors at the Vogtle Nuclear Generating Station. This $9 billion project, known as the Vogtle Nuclear Expansion, was aimed at providing electricity to the entire South Carolina region.

As the project progressed, the costs escalated, reaching $10.2 billion. Finally, the two new power plants were constructed, but when it came time to test them, the reactors failed to generate a single watt of electricity. Despite the operators’ best efforts, the plants were plagued by technical issues that prevented them from producing any power.

The owners of the Vogtle Nuclear Generating Station were forced to order a complete re-evaluation and reconstruction of the power plants. This process took 9 years and the costs skyrocketed from $10 billion to a staggering $25 billion. Tragically, even after this massive investment, the power plants still failed to generate any meaningful electricity, leading to the bankruptcy of the two companies involved.

The Ghost Town: Yujiapu Financial District

In 2005, a luxurious and ambitious project was undertaken in the northeastern region of China – the Yujiapu Financial District. This city, spanning an impressive 4,000 acres, was designed to be one of the world’s most beautiful and luxurious urban centers, modeled after the renowned Manhattan district of New York City.

The Yujiapu Financial District boasted grand buildings, apartments, offices, and even replicas of the Rockefeller Center and Twin Towers. A whopping $30 billion was invested in the creation of this financial hub. However, the project fell victim to its own grandiosity and exclusivity.

The apartments within the Yujiapu Financial District were priced beyond the reach of even the wealthy, with even the smallest units starting in the millions. As a result, Chinese citizens were unable to afford the properties, and the city remained largely uninhabited. By 2008 to 2015, only 20% of the district’s properties were traded, and those who did purchase apartments soon regretted their decision.

The residents of Yujiapu Financial District have reported that during heavy rains and storms, the city feels as if it is sinking. The Chinese government has since halted further construction, as there is little demand for the properties. The once-grand vision of a thriving financial hub has now been reduced to a “ghost town,” with empty buildings and deserted streets, a testament to the perils of excessive ambition and poor planning.

The Abandoned Eco-City: Forest City

In 2006, a Chinese real estate developer embarked on an ambitious project in Malaysia – the creation of Forest City. Spanning an area of 74,000 acres, this grand development was envisioned to include buildings, hotels, apartments, beaches, and malls, all within a lush, forested setting.

The primary objective behind Forest City was to provide a more affordable and luxurious alternative to the expensive seaside properties in major Chinese cities like Hong Kong and Shanghai. A staggering $100 billion was invested in the construction of this eco-city, making it one of the most ambitious projects of its kind.

However, the project’s downfall was rooted in its exclusivity. When the city was completed and Chinese affluent individuals began purchasing properties in Malaysia, the Chinese President, Xi Jinping, was displeased. He introduced a new law, the “Nonfiction Law,” which restricted Chinese urban residents from spending more than $50,000 outside the country.

With the apartments in Forest City costing millions, the very people for whom the city was built could not afford to live there. As a result, the city remains largely uninhabited, with only a handful of families residing in the vast, empty buildings. Today, Forest City is known as a “ghost town,” with a single, mostly vacant mall and dark, deserted streets at night. The $100 billion investment has become a colossal failure, a cautionary tale of the dangers of excessive ambition and poor market analysis.

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