Decade on, Saigon's underground parking lots remain on paper

By Gia Minh   February 9, 2021 | 12:00 pm GMT+7
HCMC planned to build four underground lots in the downtown area to meet its enormous demand for parking vehicles, but none is likely to be built.

They were to be built in the heart of District 1 and operate along with other commercial services.

One of them was a VND900-billion ($38.7 million) lot at the Trong Dong Theater.

Hanoi construction firm Dong Duong Group was first licensed to build it near the Saigon Opera House in 2008 but was told to move it to the Trong Dong theater, more than one km away, because it could affect construction of one of the metro line stations.

The company planned to build a 5,300-square-meter lot with seven levels below ground and three above to hold more than 700 cars and 400 motorbikes.

But as the work failed to start for a long time, the Department of Natural Resources and Environment proposed in 2018 that the city should reappropriate the land.

Trong Dong Theature where one of the underground parking lot of HCMC was supposed to go up, January 20201. Photo by VnExpress/Gia Minh

Trong Dong Theature where one of the underground parking lots of HCMC was supposed to go up, January 20201. Photo by VnExpress/Gia Minh.

The developer complained that after it had completed design evaluation the city announced that part of the project overlaps with the metro line No.2 between Ben Thanh and Tham Luong in District 12 while the Planning and Architecture Department wanted it to earmark the first floor for community activities.

But in July last year the city instructed Dong Duong to resume work, warning it should start by June 2021 and finish by the end of 2022, failing which the land would be taken back.

But there has been zero progress so far.

In 2019 a $110-million plan to build a parking lot beneath Le Van Tam Park was scrapped after a 10-year delay.

It was meant to accommodate 2,000 motorbikes, 1,250 cars, and 28 buses and trucks on an area of 100,000 square meters.

The project broke ground in 2010, but stalled soon after.

Le Van Tam Park from above, January 2021. Photo by VnExpress/Quynh Tran

Le Van Tam Park from above, January 2021. Photo by VnExpress/Quynh Tran.

According to the Department of Transport, many important requirements were not fulfilled, including getting construction permits and evaluating technical designs.

In 2012 the investor completed the basic design. It then sought to make adjustments but did not do so for five years. At the end of 2017 it promised to carry out the work, but so far it has not.

The other two lots were approved in 2015 and 2016 to be built at Tao Dan Park and Hoa Lu Stadium.

The former was to cost more than VND1 trillion and have four levels underground and one above to park nearly 1,200 cars and 900 motorbikes. The other was to cost VND3.4 trillion to have five underground levels to accommodate 2,500 cars and 2,873 motorbikes.

According to the transport department, the two faced problems related to rules for underground construction.

The developers and the city also failed to reach agreement on the parking fees.

The parking space available in the city is now only 20 percent of the city's planning for parking space, which means it needs 900 more hectares (2,223 acres) to have 1,200 hectares of parking space by the end of 2020.

Home to 13 million people, Vietnam’s biggest city has almost nine million private vehicles, more than four million up since 2010, including 825,000 automobiles.

 
 
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