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HCMC shifts parking lot focus from underground to high above

By Gia Minh   September 19, 2022 | 06:00 am PT
HCMC shifts parking lot focus from underground to high above
The September 23 Park in HCMC's District 1 is one of the places where a high-rise parking lot is planned. Photo by VnExpress/Quynh Tran
With underground parking lots remaining on paper after many years, Ho Chi Minh City is considering building assembled high-rise facilities in the downtown area.

The municipal Transport Department is working on a plan to build assembled high-rise parking lots at three parks in District 1: September 23, Le Van Tam and Tao Dan. This area attracts a lot of people coming for commercial services and entertainment, but seriously lacks parking spaces.

Ngo Hai Duong, head of the department’s road infrastructure management and exploitation division, said the advantage of assembled parking lots is that they occupy less area and cost less compared to other types of high-rise as well as underground parking lots.

"It is also easy to enlarge parking space by assembling more blocks together and when needed, it is easy to dismantle and relocate," said Duong, adding that the department was working with some investors to study and complete the plan before proposing it to the city administration.

Suitable solution

Private investors had suggested earlier that HCMC builds assembled, high-rise parking lots in the downtown area after this model proved their efficiency, including one at 71 Che Lan Vien Street in Tan Phu District that can serve 2,800 cars and motorbikes, one on Co Giang Street of District 1 with 2,000 slots and the one at Tan Son Nhat airport with 10,000 slots.

However, the proposal, made in 2017, was not approved by city leaders over concerns about increased congestion and reduced public space for people in the inner-city area.

In 2018, to deal with the scarcity of parking spaces, the city allowed cars to park along more than 20 streets in districts 1, 5 and 10 and collect parking fees. However, this solution failed to meet the actual parking demand in the downtown area.

Nguyen Huu Nguyen from the Vietnam Urban Development Planning Association said in the context that no underground parking lot has been built until now, assembled high-rise car parks are a suitable solution to solve an urgent problem in the city center.

Such projects have been implemented in many large cities as it helps to save space, he noted. They also cost less and the implementation process is simple, making it easier to attract investors, he said.

Nguyen said the scarcity of parking lot is one of the causes of traffic jams in the inner city, because cars have to stop and park on the roads or keep running around looking for a place to park.

Dormant projects

Four underground lots with a total capacity of 6,300 cars and 4,000 motorbikes in the downtown area have remained on paper for more than a decade.

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.

Trong Dong Theater, where a parking lot with seven levels underground was plannned. Photo by VnExpress/Gia Minh

Trong Dong Theater, where a parking lot with seven levels underground was plannned. Photo by VnExpress/Gia Minh

Hanoi construction firm Dong Duong Group was first licensed to build it near the Saigon Opera House in 2008, but later 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 and three above the ground to accommodate more than 700 cars and 400 motorbikes.

But after work failed to start on the project for a long time, the municipal Department of Natural Resources and Environment proposed in 2018 that the city should reclaim the land.

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

In July 2020, the city instructed Dong Duong to resume work, warning that 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.

According to the Department of Transport, many important requirements were not fulfilled, including getting construction permits and evaluation of 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 there has been no progress since.

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

According to the transport department, both projects 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 plans, for which it needed another 900 hectares (2,223 acres) for a total of 1,200 hectares.

 
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