Gregory M. Stein, the Woolf, McClane, Bright, Allen & Carpenter Distinguished Professor of Law at the University of Tennessee College of Law, recently spoke to Business Insider about the David and Goliath-like battle between developers and residents in Guangfuli, Shanghai, that has been at a stalemate for well over a decade.
Guangfuli is centrally located in downtown Shanghai, one of the world’s most expensive real estate markets where, according to Reuters, “real estate agents estimate the average prices in the area to be close to $1,115 a square foot.” Unlike in the United States, Shanghai’s wealthy seek real estate in the city, as opposed to the suburbs, according to Business Insider.
The development boom in Guangfuli has caused friction between luxury apartment and condo developers and residents, who refuse to move out of their homes, causing towers to be built around them and creating a striking dichotomy of wealth and poverty. It’s a situation not unlike the premise of Pixar’s 2009 film Up, but on a much larger scale. Entire neighborhoods refusing to move have come to be known as “nail” neighborhoods because they refuse to be pried from their land and homes.
“It used to be that you either got your housing from the government or your employer,” Stein told Business Insider. “Housing was not a commodity…But because the housing stock originally given to workers was low-quality, even if they got compensation, the apartment is so lousy that you couldn’t replace it for that money.”