1The Washington townhouse homeowner who rejected a $2 million offer but eventually sold for $750,000
At the dizzying height of the real estate boom, Austin Spriggs had the equivalent of a golden lottery ticket – a downtown Washington townhouse on precisely the red-hot block where developers hoped to build hundreds of swanky condominiums and offices.
Developers paraded in and out of his office, offering Spriggs millions for the building that had housed his small architecture firm since 1980. Each time, Spriggs told them no and held out for more money. Then, as offers dried up, he vowed to turn the place into a pizzeria that would feed newcomers to this once-forgotten strip along Massachusetts Avenue, east of the Washington Convention Center.
At a time when mountains of cash were being made in real estate, Spriggs' resistance became the talk of Washington and beyond.
Four years later, the block-long crater that surrounded Spriggs' building was occupied by glass, steel and brick towers. The pizzeria never opened. After his bank threatened foreclosure, Spriggs put the property up for sale for $1.5 million, nearly half of what one developer had once hoped to pay him. He eventually sold the house in 2011, for 750,000.
2The Chinese man's home that ended up at the bottom of a giant pit after he refused to sell it
At first glance, this house looks like it might have been in the middle of a massive explosion, yet is somehow still standing. But the three-story building in Yichang, Hubei province is in the middle of a construction site of a high-tech industrial park and has fallen victim to China's rapid urban development.
The lone house, surrounded by piles of dirt left by the ongoing construction, belongs to a man with the surname Yang, who has refused to move during a two-year battle with the local government.
In 2012, Mr. Yang was unable to agree a relocation compensation amount with the authorities, and the developer subsequently cut off his water and electricity. Both Mr. Yang and his family left the home briefly to move into rented accommodations while his daughter-in-law gave birth. Due to economic reasons, they have since moved back.
They are forced to collect water from a river more than a kilometer away. For light, they resort to using candles and lamps.
3The four-lane highway that was built around two apartment blocks after residents refused to move
In 2015, construction workers were forced to build a $15 million road around two apartment blocks in China after several families refused to move.
The embarrassing rebuke by the ten households forced developers to curve the major new route around the properties in the city of Yongjia, in eastern China's Zhejiang province.
Officials launched the multi-million dollar blueprint to much fanfare, saying the new 10-mile provincial road would provide a fast and efficient route between the city and 19 surrounding villages.
The homeowners say they are happy to move, but only if they are offered a fair price so they can afford a new property and be compensated for the inconvenience of leaving homes where they were perfectly happy.
4The woman who refused to sell her home and had mall built around it
In the Ballard neighborhood of Seattle, there's a huge shopping mall with a strange hole in the center of the building. Inside that gap sits a tiny house with an amazing story that some say inspired Pixar's Up.
At 84 years old, Macefield saw the quirky, quiet neighborhood of Ballard becoming more and more gentrified. Old houses were being replaced with boutique shops and diners replaced with condos. When developers came knocking on her little two-story home's door with plans to bulldoze it and the surroundings and build a shopping mall, she refused to sell, even after they offered her a million dollars.
The developers had no choice but to build around her, and as they did, she formed an unlikely friendship with the construction chief, Barry Martin. He found himself looking after Edith, picking up her medications, groceries, and even bonding with the stubborn woman. When he noticed that Edith didn't seem to keep any weight on, it was he who drove her to the hospital and sat with her when it was discovered that she had pancreatic cancer.
When Edith passed away at 87, she had done something completely unexpected: she had willed her home to Barry.
Currently, the 1,550-square-foot house is now listed by local real estate agent Paul Thomas without an asking price. It has the potential to be used as a house, office, museum or as an addition to the Ballard Blocks retail complex surrounding it.
Whether or not the tiny house was the true inspiration for Up is debatable, but Edith Macefield's story has left an inspiring legacy all on its own. She has become something of a folk hero, inspiring locals to get tattoos of the small house. Even a music festival has sprung up around her act of defiance.
5The road that was built around a house after an elderly Chinese couple refused to move
A lone apartment building stands in the middle of a newly built road after an elderly couple refused to relocate. Luo Baogen and his wife insisted on living in the half-demolished building in the city of Wenling, in Zhejiang province, China because they believe that the relocation compensation offered by the government was not enough.
Now the only building left standing, the five story block is a strange sight as cars drive around it while the couple remain living inside.To ensure the couple's safety, adjacent rooms in the building have been left intact but all their neighbors have moved out, according to local media.
The road paved through the Xiazhangyang village leads to the Wenling railway station and was opened in 2012.
In the People's Republic of China, during most of the Communist era, private ownership of property was abolished, making it easy for residents to be moved, but now the laws have been tightened up and it is illegal to demolish property by force without an agreement.
6The couple whose utilities were cut off for refusing to sell
In 2012, Niu Chuangen and Zhang Zhongyun dared to stand in the way of a local property developer in Zaozhuang, in the Shandong province. As a result, the resolute couple, both in their 60s, have been left stranded on their tiny spot of land, while all around them the ground has been dug up and skyscrapers erected.
The distraught pair were regularly threatened by gangsters, and have had to fend for themselves over a number of attempts to illegally demolish their ramshackle home.
Their utilities were cut off in 2009 when a local developer started the construction of dozens of high-rise residential buildings in the area.
7The nail house with a 360-degree road view
If you can't build through it, build around it – city planners seem to have taken this advice quite literally. Motorway builders encircled the homes of three Chinese families with a four-lane flyover after they refused to make way for the bulldozers.
Demolition teams in Guangzhou had planned to destroy the houses in order to connect the city's road network to a recently opened tunnel under the Pearl River, but since the owners refused to sell, they had to make construction adjustments.
Some Internet users joked that authorities had given the holdouts homes "with a 360-degree road view."
8The “Million Dollar Corner” bought to stop Macy's from becoming the world's largest store
For decades it's been hidden behind billboards or wrapped in a giant faux shopping bag. Many shoppers never even notice it. But old photos reveal a five-story building sticking out like a sore thumb in front of the world's most iconic department store.
Although Macy's leases ad space on it, the five-story building has never been owned by the store and is one of the most famous holdouts in New York real estate history.
It all started around 1900, when Macy's, then located on West 14th Street, began picking up land in Herald Square for its huge new shopping mecca. Macy's had a verbal agreement to buy a plot at the corner of 34th and Broadway. But an agent scored the plot instead.
The 5-story building on that corner had been purchased by Robert H. Smith for $375,000 – an incredible sum at the time. The idea had been to obstruct Macy's from becoming the largest store in the world. It is largely supposed that Smith, who was a neighbor of the Macy's store on 14th Street, was acting on behalf of Siegel-Cooper, which had built what they thought was the world's largest store on Sixth Avenue in 1896.
Macy's ignored the tactic and built around the building, which now carries Macy's "shopping bag" sign (proclaiming Macy's the "world's largest store") by lease arrangement.
9The Chinese highway built around a farm
Drivers on a highway built in 2014 found themselves on a road to nowhere when they hit an entire farm blocking the route.
Most of the residents accepted pay packages to move out and allow for construction on a Dongying, China road. But farmer Ye Tan, 72, and his wife Shen, 71, felt they were not offered enough, so they stayed put.
Not willing to miss the completion deadline, the local council simply built either side of it. Now, Mr. Tan's barn and yard (home to a goat and a few chickens) straddles the highway in east China's Shandong province, completely blocking any cars from getting past.
Small vehicles can make their way around on a narrow dirt track to the side. Trucks, however, will have to turn back and take a detour. Motorists have blasted the construction workers for failing to notify anyone about the obstacle, which does not show up on GPS.
10The holdout farm in the middle of a Japanese airport
At Narita airport in Japan, farmers refused to part with their land which happens to be situated in the middle of the airport! More astonishingly, they are in very close proximity to the runway and don't mind experiencing the tremor each time a flight takes off or lands.
Since the airport's opening, around 90 planes a day fly over their district – often at an altitude as low as 40 meters – as they take off or approach for landing. The noise often exceeds 100 decibels – a level equivalent to what one hears under an elevated railway.
It all started when some of the residents of Narita were angry that the Japanese government tried to use eminent domain to uproot them from their homes and farms. As a result, they fought hard legal battles that allowed them to keep their homes. The government eventually took enough land to build Narita Airport, but with just one runway, not the three originally planned, despite the years of bitter resistance.
The facility opened in 1978, two months after a last-ditch protest in which masked and helmeted leftists took over the almost-finished control tower and smashed its equipment. It was the longest and deadliest conflict in the country's post World War II history, lasting 39 years and claiming the lives of 13 people. The final act in the conflict was played out in July 2005, when the airport authority announced that it had given up trying to persuade seven farmers holding small plots blocking the southern expansion to sell their land.