Beijing [China], May 17 (ANI): In 2018, housing prices in New District, in the city of Dandong on China's northeastern border with North Korea, were the fastest growing in the country, however, hopes for its future have dampened by the outbreak of the pandemic last year.
The latest Chinese government numbers showed Dandong's house prices in March recorded a mere four per cent increase on last year.
A new three-bedroom flat with a river view in New District today costs 7,000 yuan per square metre (USD100 per square foot) - not much higher than it would have been worth when speculation stalled in 2019, South China Sea.
According to the report, the demand has dropped since the hopes for roaring trade with North Korea were dashed by the outbreak of the pandemic last year which prompted Pyongyang to seal off the country. Travel was banned and trade by road, rail and sea almost entirely suspended.
However, three years back New District was different when house prices in some areas rose by more than 50 per cent in just a few days after a historic summit between North Korea's leader Kim Jong-un and his southern counterpart Moon Jae-in at the end of April.
Throughout that year, the growing sense of detente on the Korean peninsula - marked also by Kim's first visits to China and his unprecedented meeting with then US President Donald Trump - gave Dandong, with a population of just 2.5 million, the biggest house price surge in the country, which continued into 2019.
At least 70 per cent of trade between China and North Korea has traditionally passed through the gateway city of Dandong, with trucks and freight trains crossing the Sino-North Korean Friendship Bridge into the downtown area.
New District was developed from scratch in anticipation that the new Yalu River Bridge would further boost trade.
No official reason has been given for the delay in opening the dual carriageway bridge, but it is widely understood that Pyongyang's agreement has yet to be given for it to go ahead.
Meanwhile, the surrounding facilities which cost the Chinese government billions to develop - including two special economic zones, gleaming residential buildings and malls - stand mostly empty.
A property agent for Singapore City, the residential development closest to the new bridge, said there had been a significant change in the composition of interested buyers since the inflated prices in 2018.
"The composition of our latest customers is different from 2018, when the price surge was most significant. In the past we had buyers coming in from all over the country, and a lot from the northeastern provinces who only bought the flats for investment purposes," she said.
"Now, people who buy are locals who would like to live in a new flat and are not betting on the time of the opening of the bridge," she added. (ANI)