Magnificent century-old Tax center to be torn down in Saigon

By Huu Cong   October 11, 2016 | 03:45 pm GMT+7
Magnificent century-old Tax center to be torn down in Saigon
Saigon Tax Trade Center has been a popular shopping place for more than a century. Photo by VnExpress

Demolition work at the 136-year-old building will start on Wednesday to make way for a 40-story modern skyscraper.

Demolition work at the 136-year-old Saigon Tax Trade Center will start on Wednesday to make way for a 40-story modern skyscraper.

Work on the new building, the Saigon Tax Plaza, will start early next year, and it will be connected to the city's first subway line when it is completed in 2020.

Doan Hoai Minh, deputy director of Saigon Trading Company, the main investor in the project, said there will be shopping malls and entertainment services, offices, hotels and a helipad.

Minh said the existing mosaic in the lobby will be taken up and used for the new staircase. In late 2014, the city also approved a proposal from the Architecture Department to preserve the main lobby, the grand staircase and its bronze railings.

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The building's grand staircase will be preserved. Photo by VnExpress

These parts have been removed over the past three months.

HCMC authorities have assured members of the public that the new building will preserve the general image of the old one and appear in harmony with nearby historic structures, such as the city's People’s Committee headquarters, the Rex Hotel and the Opera House.

The Saigon Tax Trade Center was built in 1880 and has been renovated several times since then. However, several of the building’s interior elements, including the lobby, mosaic floor and the main staircase, are original 19th century items.

Originally known as “the Grands Magasins Charner”, the 9,200-square-meter building opened in 1924 and became “the place to shop in Saigon”, according to Saigon historian Tim Doling.

Last renovated in 2003, the building retains many of its original interior features, notably its beautiful stairway and its decorative wrought iron railings.

In 2010 the city approved a project to replace the building, with demolition planned for 2014.

But the plan has been delayed after meeting strong protest from the nostalgic public. More than 300 architects, researchers and students signed a petition calling on the city to preserve parts of the iconic building.

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