Hua Cao (pronounced hwa chow) is Puxi’s answer to Pudong’s tranquil residential area, Jinqiao, and has seen a rapid pace of development over the past 15 years. What was once a single intersection town centered at the corner of Jinfeng Road and Baole Road and the American School nearby, has blossomed into a bustling expat enclave.
Much of this has to do with the improvement of road links that were the center of a municipal border dispute for a decade. During that time, the areas of Hua Cao and Xujing were separated by a canal forcing residents to travel a good distance in either direction to access the other side. With the completion of the Metro stops at East Xujing and Panlong Road, the disputes were settled and the two areas linked. While the Metro stops aren’t super close, they do provide much needed access.
The Shanghai Raquet Club is the most popular villa and apartment complex in town and the focal point of much of the activities of residents. Who purchase memberships for the facilities even if they don’t live in the compounds. Membership costs about 10,000 USD per year for the family. Though pricey, if you are going to live in the area it is kind of a must.
The planning of the town is part of a much bigger development plan for the entire area between the Outer Ring Road and the Hongqiao Transportation Hub. This expansion of the city beyond the Outer Ring Road and the concurrent development of the Hongqiao CBD means that when complete, Hua Cao and Xujing will be nearby suburbs of what is essentially a new city flanking old Shanghai in the same way Lujiazui does for Pudong.
The scale of the project is truly astounding and involves the entire network of high-speed rail lines in the country converging on the Hongqiao Transportation Hub. By train, Beijing is now only 4 hours 38 minutes at an effective speed of 217 miles or 350 kilometers per hour. So while a flight from Shanghai to Beijing takes 2 hours 20 minutes of time in the air, factoring in security differences, no delays waiting to take off, land or board, and there is little difference between the two. Seats are larger and working on your laptop a reasonably comfortable experience.
Then your trip home to your villa in Hua Cao or Xujing is a relatively speedy 15 minutes or less and if you are taking a taxi, the lines at the high-speed rail terminal are significantly shorter. This is no small thing as taxi lines at Hongqiao Airport Terminal can be up to 45 minutes long during peak rush hour times every evening. That is not because there aren’t enough taxis it is just how long it takes to queue up and load up such a mass of humanity.
The opening of the National Exhibition and Convention Center (NECC) at the Xujing East Metro stop on Zhuguang Road will have a huge impact on the area over time. Billed as the world’s largest single building in terms of size, the construction of the NECC is yet another arm of the long-term strategic development of the area. The Intercontinental Hotel in the complex brings up-scale dining and entertainment options to the area as well – something it was sorely lacking in the past.
While there are some western medical options in town, the planned construction of a massive world-class medical facility in the center of town will make the area by far the best served in China.
Shopping in the area was previously limited to the Carrefour complex on the Xujing side of the canal, however construction is underway on a mall/lifestyle center in the centre of town, which will change the retail landscape significantly as similar development did for Jinqiao in Pudong a decade ago.
Overall, Hua Cao and Xujing are now well-served on all fronts and both will continue to grow exponentially in the years to come.