Ordos, China, was created on one-sixth of China’s coal reserves, and was meant to attract almost 1 million people (which was later scaled back to 300,000) after having been built from scratch. But high property taxes and poor construction made it so that there is only around 100,000 people living there, leaving the greater part of the city completely empty.
Located in the remote province of Inner Mongolia, Ordos sits on one-sixth of China’s coal reserves — making it an attractive center for development.
In the late ’90s and early 2000s, private mining companies got the rights to dig into those deposits. The influx of new business generated lots of tax revenue.
“The local government decided to build this overly ambitious city from scratch,” Olivier told Business Insider. In 2005, it began investing hundreds of millions of dollars in real estate and infrastructure.
But by 2010, an abundance of housing in a nonexistent market led the bubble to burst. High property taxes turned off families from moving to Ordos, according to Olivier.
Plus, Ordos New Town rose up just a few miles from the “old city” of Ordos, a thriving provincial town. “People just didn’t see the point of moving,” Olivier said.
“In the end, only government officials and migrant construction workers effectively settled in,” Olivier said, “leaving the vast majority of the city completely empty.”