Permit lapse may ground construction of world's tallest building in China

The plan to raise what
would be the world's tallest building in a
dizzyingly fast time is in danger of not
getting off the ground at all.
According to reports in Chinese state media,
Broad Group, the developers for Sky City,
have so far failed to get the proper permits
required to proceed with construction. The
company put the first spade in the ground in
the 202-story project to much fanfare on July
20.
Developers hope it could be built within the
year.
The 838-meter construction in Changsha, the
capital of China's central Hunan province,
would rise ten meters higher than the world's
current tallest building, the Burj Khalifa in
Dubai.
"Broad is still currently in the beginning
stages of arranging the construction project,"
a Changsha Urban Planning Department
representative told CNN.
"So far, they've undergone the process to
obtain 136 mu [22 acres] of land, but that's
it. They're still in the very basic beginning
stages. We've been giving a lot of attention
to this case, and everything they've done has
been according to law."
For its part Broad Group
insisted everything was above
board. "We have not yet
started work on Changsha's Sky
City," a Broad Group press
officer told CNN. He added
that they have evidence to
show no laws have been
broken.
Penalties for illegal
construction vary widely across
China between the countryside
and cities, as well as between
residential and commercial
use.
In Chengdu, the capital of
Sichuan province, baseline
fines for illegal construction
range from 5% to 10% with
investigative fees as much as
doubling the amount.
Additional penalties for various
infractions can then double the
original fine, according to one
official government website.
In the southwest megacity of
Chongqing, the fine for the
illegal construction of a commercial building
is 50% of the cost of construction, according
to another government site .
If similar penalties exist in Changsha as for
Chongqing, Broad Group could be fined
nearly $750 million. Sky City's total
construction cost is $1.46 billion .
Construction advocates have touted Sky
City's green credentials: It will save on
energy and land use, creating an all-in-one
home, office, shopping, farming and
recreation environment for some 30,000
residents that no one ever needs to leave.
Critics -- including architectural experts and
the Chinese public -- worry about safety
because of the use of non-traditional
building techniques and the pace of
construction. Broad Group pioneered the use
of pre-fabricated steel-and-concrete blocks
-- akin to Lego blocks -- that can be quickly
hoisted into place. While the Burj Khalifa
took five years to build, Broad Group says
this "fast-building technology" means it can
construct Sky City in just ten months.
Sky City will be completed in April 2014, said
Broad Group in earlier statements.
However when questioned by CNN, the
company's press officer hesitated to provide
a start date for construction. He added that
plans will be announced at an as-yet
unscheduled future press conference, leaving
construction plans for Sky City firmly frozen
on the ground.