(CNN) — They built it, but the shoppers didn’t come.
New South China Mall in Guangdong Province opened in 2005. With 5 million square feet of shopping area, the mall can accommodate 2,350 stores, making it the largest shopping center in the world in terms of leasable space — more than twice the size of Mall of America, the biggest shopping center in the United States.
At the outdoor plaza, hundreds of palm-trees blend with a replica Arc de Triomphe, a giant Egyptian sphinx, fountains and long-stretching canals with gondolas.
Only problem is, the mall is virtually deserted. Despite the bombastic design and grand plans, only a handful of stores are occupied. “Most of it empty, with little consumer traffic and a high vacancy rate,” according to a report last year by Emporis, a global building data firm. “It has been classified as a ‘dead mall.’”