“America represents wilderness and freedom, and also a big house,”
December 11, 2015 12:35 PM   Subscribe

Living a Frontier Dream on the Outskirts of China’s Capital by Andrew Jacobs [New York Times]
Welcome to “Hometown America,” as Jackson Hole is called in Chinese, a mammoth real-estate venture that is an exacting pastiche of an American frontier town, albeit one with a wine-tasting pavilion, a spa and security guards dressed as park rangers, who salute every passing car. Modest entry-level homes sell for $625,000. Larger abodes — described by Jackson Hole’s developers as castles — have an attached vineyard and fetch nearly $8 million. The developer, Ju Yi International, says that more than 90 percent of the 1,500 homes have already been sold. Occupying more than a square mile of arid land in northeast Hebei Province, Jackson Hole has plenty of room to expand.
posted by Fizz (25 comments total) 12 users marked this as a favorite
 
Huh. I looked it up, Jackson Hole is a valley in the Tetons, but the only other time I'd heard of it was in a Japanese manga/anime called Nana, referring to a real-life bar/burger joint in Tokyo. This is completely aside to the thing, but I'm surprised the name is popular?
posted by qcubed at 1:01 PM on December 11, 2015 [1 favorite]


As a resident of Jackson Hole, USA it's pretty clear that the Chinese are doing it wrong. We all live here because of the mountains and the national parks, the like minded people and the adventure. And most of the billionaires that have similar giant houses are never here. They own these houses for tax evasion purposes or what have you (I don't even know because it's not a problem I have). And even at 90 percent occupancy, the chinese still have one thing that we don't: housing availability.
posted by pwally at 1:04 PM on December 11, 2015 [3 favorites]


Also, now, after reading the article, I'm not sure how I feel. Horrified, in a way, but I can't decide if it's because it's such a strange, botched reinterpretation of America, or just the insane amount of waste and energy this thing entails.
posted by qcubed at 1:05 PM on December 11, 2015 [1 favorite]


Whenever I read about these kind of complexes, I wonder at how successful they are? Like 5, 10, or 25 years down the road, are they still thriving or are they empty and abandoned?

I know The Simpsons parody is set in Japan but while I was reading this article, I was thinking very much of this: 'Tokyo's America Town.'
posted by Fizz at 1:06 PM on December 11, 2015 [2 favorites]


Here it is on Google Maps. What strikes me is that it looks a lot denser than the American suburbia it's imitating: compare e.g. this spot near the original Jackson Hole, at the same zoom level.
posted by theodolite at 1:12 PM on December 11, 2015 [3 favorites]


One thing that stood out in the article is this section:
Still, residents gush about what they call Jackson Hole’s American-inspired openness and warmth. Strangers greet one another as they stroll along the landscaped cul-de-sacs and refer to one another by affectionate nicknames like “Vanilla,” “Little Lion” and “Old Hooligan.” Meng Pu, 40, a homeowner who teaches flower arrangement, embroidery and baking to fellow residents, said the atmosphere promoted relationships free from the compulsive networking and one-upmanship that can color social interactions in China.
The idea of being free from the compulsive networking and one-upmanship that exists elsewhere in society is a bit ironic. I imagine that unless you were born wealthy enough to purchase one of these 'castles', you must have clawed your way to the top of your own industry/business in order to achieve the wealth required to purchase and live in one of these complexes where you can then not worry about the competitiveness.
posted by Fizz at 1:14 PM on December 11, 2015 [1 favorite]


Isn't there residential associated with at least one Disneyland?
posted by rhizome at 1:21 PM on December 11, 2015


Old Hooligan sounds like Ray Smuckles's personal rye whiskey brand
posted by theodolite at 1:25 PM on December 11, 2015 [13 favorites]


Isn't there residential associated with at least one Disneyland?

Yes. 'Golden Oak at Walt Disney'.
Welcome to a world embraced by luxury, privacy, and the Magic of Disney. This magnificent resort community offers first-ever whole ownership of custom single-family homes at Walt Disney World® Resort.
posted by Fizz at 1:31 PM on December 11, 2015 [1 favorite]


qcubed, Jackson Hole restaurants show up in a few places, but may not be affiliated with each other. I ate at one in New York, and Woody Allen and Dianne Wiest eat at what seemed like a completely different one in Hannah and Her Sisters.
posted by LionIndex at 1:40 PM on December 11, 2015


As a resident of Jackson Hole, USA it's pretty clear that the Chinese are doing it wrong.

Well, they're not like academics that have to capture accurately everything about a time or a place. This is kinda like American developments trying to capture a piece of Tuscan Italy, or even like Solvang, California. As long as it feels real enough to the people going there, then they achieved their goal.
posted by FJT at 2:48 PM on December 11, 2015 [5 favorites]


Needs an “occidentalism” tag.
posted by acb at 3:47 PM on December 11, 2015 [4 favorites]


Here it is on Google Maps. What strikes me is that it looks a lot denser than the American suburbia it's imitating: compare e.g. this spot near the original Jackson Hole, at the same zoom level.

Using the "measure" tool in Google maps (not exactly survey-grade precision, but good enough for this), those lots look like they are between .15 and .2 acres, so about normal for a dense, older neighborhood in a small town in the US, but smaller than you would find in newer outer suburbs and much smaller than the ruralish/ranchette-scale developments that are commonly built for second home buyers.
posted by Dip Flash at 4:20 PM on December 11, 2015


And even at 90 percent occupancy,

The developer claims that 90%+ of the housing has been sold. In practice, typically with such luxury housing developments in China, the majority or at least a huge chunk of properties sold will likely remain pure investments with no occupation by owners or tenants (Chinese buyers tend to value newness highly - tenants are seen as undermining the property's value through use)
posted by Bwithh at 4:21 PM on December 11, 2015 [3 favorites]


(Hit post too fast.) In comparison, that Jackson Hole development measures out as 1/2 acre lots, typical for expensive new developments, but built around retention ponds and other "common area" spaces, either as an amenity or because those spaces are undevelopable, which makes the average density considerably lower.
posted by Dip Flash at 4:25 PM on December 11, 2015


It's a translation error, they meant to call it "Loudon County" and they were absolutely on the ball about everything else.
posted by 3urypteris at 5:50 PM on December 11, 2015


"Make China Boring"
posted by oceanjesse at 6:18 PM on December 11, 2015


Guns? Flags? Ubiquitous in-your-face Christianity?

Authenticity lacking.
posted by fredludd at 12:43 AM on December 12, 2015


I now have a great idea for a Longmire spinoff!
posted by srboisvert at 7:03 AM on December 12, 2015


Huh. About ten years ago, my daughter and I wandered into the showroom for Jackson Hole. It was in the middle of a park in northern Beijing. I think the park was dedicated to peace with Japan -- not a major venue, at any rate. So the Jackson Hole showroom was a small building with a J. H. sign out by the walkway, featuring a picture of a cowboy on a bucking bronco. Of course I had to go in. The main feature was a kind of unattractive diorama of a brown mound with little houses studded all over it. That's all I had time to absorb before the attendant ushered us out, in spite of our being dressed in authentic American casual attire. It was one of those surreal experiences that sneak up on foreigners in Beijing.
posted by Kirth Gerson at 2:53 PM on December 12, 2015 [2 favorites]


There's zero chance your presence and reactions there would have helped sales.
posted by rhizome at 4:29 PM on December 12, 2015 [3 favorites]


I feel like a total nerd, but the libertarian hellhole in Lois McMaster Bujold's Vorkosigan Saga is the only association I have seeing the name.
posted by Gnatcho at 9:44 PM on December 12, 2015 [1 favorite]


There's zero chance your presence and reactions there would have helped sales.

You don't think I'm an eccentric millionaire who'd buy a place in Jackson Hole on a whim?


Well OK then.
posted by Kirth Gerson at 4:31 AM on December 13, 2015


You don't think I'm an eccentric millionaire who'd buy a place in Jackson Hole on a whim?

That depends...do you wear a monocle?
posted by rhizome at 1:00 PM on December 13, 2015


Actually, I wear two, joined together. A sort of binnacle, if you will.
posted by Kirth Gerson at 6:52 AM on December 14, 2015


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