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The Greenwich of Zhejiang

By Paul Welitzkin in New York| China Daily USA| Updated: August 12, 2015 L M S

Developer plans touch of Connecticut in Hangzhou

If the very affluent town of Greenwich, Connecticut - about 35 miles from New York City - were in China, would it bring Western-educated Chinese expats back to the mainland?

That's apparently what Wang Chuxiang, chairman of Zhejiang Jiangong Real Estate Development Group Co, is hoping will happen as he plans to emulate aspects of the town in a model city he is creating in his native Hangzhou, a capital city of nearly 9 million in Zhejiang province.

Hangzhou was selected because it is a nearly two-hour drive from the financial center of Shanghai. The 6 billion yuan ($966.4 million) development is scheduled to be completed in 2019. Chinese banks, corporate investment and private investors are financing the project.

Research for the project focused on US cities and areas like Seattle, Silicon Valley in Northern California and Greenwich.

"Their idea was to create a development project that would attract tech and finance companies staffed by Chinese graduates of US colleges like Harvard and Yale," said Bob Ormond, the vice-president and general manager of GX International, a Seattle-based unit of Zhejiang Jiangong.

Ormond said the Hangzhou development will include a financial center - Yuhuang Shannan Fund Town or the EuroAmerica Financial Center (EFC) - and the goal is to create one similar to that in Greenwich.

The town of about 61,000 with stately multi-million-dollar houses and large estates is one of the most affluent areas in the US. It is a hub for hedge funds and other financial institutions that want to be about a 40-minute express train ride from New York City and Wall Street yet reside in an opulent suburban setting.

In 2013 Ormond accompanied a group of Chinese journalists from Hangzhou that visited Greenwich.

"Greenwich is an example of international finance centered in a smaller more comfortable urban environment and less-taxed environment near a major city like New York," he said. "The Seattle and Silicon Valley areas were examples of international high-tech and medical research centers in smaller more comfortable living environments in second-tier US cities."

"The core of our EFC development is to create a comfortable living and working environment for returning North American educated Chinese who have become used to North American working environments and living comforts while away from China. These are well-educated individuals and entrepreneurs that are not attracted to traditional constricting business or living environments," Ormond said.

Ormond noted that Greenwich is an example of a great financial investment hub that is not centered in a major city. "Instead it is set in a very beautiful and bucolic setting that is near a major international city (New York City). Using this example we would equate Hangzhou and Shanghai in a similar way," he added.

Ormond said there are 17 mixed-use buildings in Zheijang Jiangong's portion of the Hangzhou project. They include residential buildings with retail and commercial components for residents, serviced apartment buildings (similar to an executive or extended stay corporate type dwelling) with commercial and retail components for residents and guests. It also has commercial office buildings with retail components for office dwellers, one hospitality building and one traditional apartment building.


 The Greenwich of Zhejiang

A Chinese real estate company plans to create a replica of Greenwich, Connecticut (pictured above on Aug 8) in Hangzhou, Zhejiang province. The waterfront community 30 minutes from New York City is home to hedge-fund billionaires and other high-net worth individuals. Chris Davis / China Daily

(China Daily USA 08/10/2015 page1)