Photo by Remko Tanis

The Globe and Mail:

When the New South China Mall opened to great fanfare in 2006, it immediately became the world’s largest shopping centre by floor space, knocking the West Edmonton Mall into second place. Newsweek magazine believed it to be one of the seven “new wonders of the world,” visitors are reminded in a video that plays on an endless loop over one of the mall’s many entrances.

Five years later, the New South China Mall has achieved a very different, unforeseen notoriety. With an occupancy rate of just 2 per cent, the 660,000-square-metre New South China Mall is one of the world’s emptiest shopping destinations and one of the biggest white elephants ever built.

The 2.1 kilometres of Venice-style canals that wind through the mall’s heart are lined with stores that closed soon after the splashy opening. Advertisements promising “Fashion 2006!” hang beside naked mannequins in one deserted clothing shop. Long rows of stalls never even saw a tenant. A half-dozen gondolas that were supposed to transport tired shoppers from one wing of the giant mall to the next bob unused beneath the mall’s stone “San Francisco Bridge,” the gondoliers nowhere in sight.

In several hours of wandering the mall’s vast acreage on a Saturday afternoon, only a handful of shoppers could be seen.

Photo by Remko Tanis.