Beijing cracks down on bizarre apartment-top villa

Associated PressBy CHRISTOPHER BODEEN | Associated Press

A rooftop villa complete with rocks and flora seen built on top of a high rise residential building stands in Beijing, China, Tuesday, Aug. 13, 2013. Beijing authorities are planning to demolish the bizarre rooftop villa embedded in rocks, trees and bushes that allegedly was built illegally atop a 26-story apartment block in the capital.(AP Photo/Ng Han Guan)
A rooftop villa complete with rocks and flora seen built on top of a high rise residential building stands in Beijing, China, Tuesday, Aug. 13, 2013. Beijing authorities are planning to demolish the bizarre rooftop villa embedded in rocks, trees and bushes that allegedly was built illegally atop a 26-story apartment block in the capital.(AP Photo/Ng Han Guan)
A rooftop villa complete with rocks and flora built on top of a high rise residential building stands in Beijing, China, Tuesday, Aug. 13, 2013. Beijing authorities are planning to demolish the bizarre rooftop villa embedded in rocks, trees and bushes that allegedly was built illegally atop a 26-story apartment block in the capital.(AP Photo/Ng Han Guan)
A rooftop villa complete with rocks and flora built on top of a high rise residential building stands in Beijing, China, Tuesday, Aug. 13, 2013. Beijing authorities are planning to demolish the bizarre rooftop villa embedded in rocks, trees and bushes that allegedly was built illegally atop a 26-story apartment block in the capital.(AP Photo/Ng Han Guan)
A man looks at a roof top villa with binoculars from an overhead bridge in Beijing, China, Tuesday, Aug. 13, 2013. Beijing authorities are planning to demolish the bizarre rooftop villa embedded in rocks, trees and bushes that allegedly was built illegally atop a 26-story apartment block in the capital. (AP Photo/Ng Han Guan)
A man looks at a roof top villa with binoculars from an overhead bridge in Beijing, China, Tuesday, Aug. 13, 2013. Beijing authorities are planning to demolish the bizarre rooftop villa embedded in rocks, trees and bushes that allegedly was built illegally atop a 26-story apartment block in the capital. (AP Photo/Ng Han Guan)

In this photo taken Saturday, Aug. 3, 2013, rows of villas are seen on the roof top of a shopping center in Hengyang in south China's Hunan province. The developer in the central city of Hengyang recently got into hot water over an illegally built complex of 25 villas on top of a shopping center. He later won permission to keep the villas intact as long as they weren't sold to others. (AP Photo) CHINA OUT

In this photo taken Saturday, Aug. 3, 2013, rows of villas are seen on the roof top of a shopping center in Hengyang in south China’s Hunan province. The developer in the central city of Hengyang recently got into hot water over an illegally built complex of 25 villas on top of a shopping center. He later won permission to keep the villas intact as long as they weren’t sold to others. (AP Photo) CHINA OUT
A surveillance camera is seen on the top of a privately built villa, surrounded by imitation rocks, on the rooftop of a 26-storey residential block in Beijing, August 13, 2013. A resident in the building has spent more than six years to build a villa covering over 1,000 square meters (10,764 square feet) on top of a 26-storey building in Beijing, according to local media. Residents in the building complained about the villa, fearing its weight may cause structural collapse. The local bureau of city administration attempted to investigate the allegedly illegal construction, but the owner has not shown up so far, Xinhua News Agency reported. REUTERS/Jason Lee (CHINA - Tags: SOCIETY BUSINESS CONSTRUCTION REAL ESTATE)
A surveillance camera is seen on the top of a privately built villa, surrounded by imitation rocks, on the rooftop of a 26-storey residential block in Beijing, August 13, 2013. A resident in the building has spent more than six years to build a villa covering over 1,000 square meters (10,764 square feet) on top of a 26-storey building in Beijing, according to local media. Residents in the building complained about the villa, fearing its weight may cause structural collapse. The local bureau of city administration attempted to investigate the allegedly illegal construction, but the owner has not shown up so far, Xinhua News Agency reported. REUTERS/Jason Lee (CHINA – Tags: SOCIETY BUSINESS CONSTRUCTION REAL ESTATE)

BEIJING (AP) — A medicine mogul spent six years building his own private mountain peak and luxury villa atop a high-rise apartment block in China’s capital, earning the unofficial title of “most outrageous illegal structure.” Now, authorities are giving him 15 days to tear it down.

The craggy complex of rooms, rocks, trees and bushes looming over the 26-story building looks like something built into a seaside cliff, and has become the latest symbol of disregard for the law among the rich as well as the rampant practice of building illegal additions.

Angry neighbors say they’ve complained for years that the unauthorized, 800-square-meter (8,600-sq. feet) mansion and its attached landscaping was damaging the building’s structural integrity and its pipe system, but that local authorities failed to crack down. They’ve also complained about loud, late-night parties.

“They’ve been renovating for years. They normally do it at night,” said a resident on the building’s 25th floor, who added that any attempts to reason with the owner were met with indifference. “He was very arrogant. He could care less about my complaints,” said the neighbor, who declined to give his name to avoid repercussions.

Haidian district urban management official Dai Jun said Tuesday that authorities would tear the two-story structure down in 15 days unless the owner does so himself or presents evidence it was legally built. Dai said his office has yet to receive such evidence.

The villa’s owner has been identified as the head of a traditional Chinese medicine business and former member of the district’s political advisory body who resides on the building’s 26th floor. Contacted by Beijing Times newspaper, the man said he would comply with the district’s orders, but he belittled attempts to call the structure a villa, calling it “just an ornamental garden.”

Authorities took action only after photos of the villa were splashed across Chinese media on Monday. Newspapers have fronted their editions with large photographs of the complex, along with the headline “Beijing’s most outrageous illegal structure.”

The case has resonance among ordinary Chinese who regularly see the rich and politically connected receive special treatment. Expensive vehicles lacking license plates are a common sight, while luxury housing complexes that surround Beijing and other cities are often built on land appropriated from farmers with little compensation.

China’s leader Xi Jinping has vowed to crack down on official corruption, and Beijing itself launched a campaign earlier this year to demolish illegal structures, although the results remain unclear.

Demand for property remains high, however, and the rooftop extralegal mansion construction is far from unique. A developer in the central city of Hengyang recently got into hot water over an illegally built complex of 25 villas on top of a shopping center. He later won permission to keep the villas intact as long as they weren’t sold to others.

While all land in China technically belongs to the state — with homebuyers merely given 70-year leases — the rules are often vague, leaving questions of usage rights and ownership murky.

A city in Sichuan province recently caused a minor stir when it was discovered to have cut the length of land leases from the normal 70 years to just 40 years.

The local government’s response to public queries drew even more jeers. Officials posted a statement online maintaining that the law allows for lease periods of less than 70 years and adding: “Who knows if we’ll still be in this world in 40 years. Don’t think too long-term.”

Original Source:  http://news.yahoo.com/beijing-cracks-down-bizarre-apartment-top-villa-065919838.html