Saigon underground parking project delayed further over planning overlap

By Huu Cong   July 21, 2020 | 05:23 pm PT
Saigon underground parking project delayed further over planning overlap
Trong Dong Theater at Tao Dan Park in Ho Chi Minh City's District 1 where an underground parking lot project is supposed to be built. Photo by VnExpress/Ha Giang.
A decade after the project was approved, an underground parking lot in HCMC downtown remains bogged down in disagreements between authorities and the investor.

The city had decided last year that the underground parking lot at the Tao Dan Park in Ho Chi Minh City’s District 1 would be built within this year, but it seems unlikely that would happen.

The latest delay has resulted from the city wanting the investor, construction firm Dong Duong Group, to make changes to its plans.

As originally planned, the Hanoi-based company was to build a 5,300-square meter parking lot with seven underground levels and three upper levels holding more than 700 cars and 400 motorbikes.

The VND900 billion ($38.7 million) project was expected to go up at the premises of the Trong Dong Theater in the park’s premises.

The investor would operate the parking lot in accordance with other commercial services and rebuild the Trong Dong Theater managed by the municipal Department of Culture and Sports.

Dong Duong received an in-principle approval in 2010 to build the parking lot and its project was approved in 2015.

However, as the project failed to start for a long time, the city’s Department of Natural Resources and Environment in 2018 proposed that the city retrieves the land allocated for the project.

In July last year, the city made the final decision for Dong Duong to resume the project, but it demanded that the company start construction by June this year at the latest and finish it by the end of 2022, failing which the land would be retrieved.

Now, the investor is saying that after they had completed design evaluation procedures, the city announced that part of the project overlaps the metro line No.2, the Ben Thanh – Tham Luong line, which runs 11 kilometers from Districts 1 to 12.

Nguyen Thi Bao Quynh, deputy director of Dong Duong, said they had never been asked to change their design nor been informed earlier that the project overlaps with the second metro line.

In addition to this, the city’s Planning and Architecture Department also requested the company to change the function of the project's first floor from commercial purposes to a public space for community activities.

The company disagreed with this move, because it had planned business activities for that floor as part of its plan to recover its capital investment.

The project costs have also gone up by more than VND9 billion, or 1 percent. In this situation, Dong Duong can only start the project next year, Quynh said.

For its part, the city’s planning and architecture department said that because the parking lot project belongs to the Tao Dan Park area, it has reviewed all the regulations on parkland and the investor has to follow the master plan for the metro line.

The department has said that it will write to the city administration and wait for its decision.

The city has planned four underground parking spaces in the downtown Districts 1 and 3 that would accommodate 6,300 cars and 4,000 motorbikes in total. None of these have been implemented.

Last year, the city cancelled an underground parking project in Le Van Tam Park, District 1 because many important requirements were not finalized, including applying for construction permits and evaluating technical designs.

Downtown parking space currently meets just 7 percent of demand, urban planning experts have estimated.

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