Jongno area excluded from New Town project

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Jongno area excluded from New Town project

The Changsin-dong and Sungin-dong area in Jongno District, central Seoul, that was designated as one of Seoul’s 35 New Town urban redevelopment areas, has been excluded from the project upon the request of the area’s residents.

The Seoul Metropolitan Government said yesterday that the Changsin-Sungin New Town district will be completely excluded from the city’s urban redevelopment plan as more than 30 percent of the residents and landlords in the area rejected it.

The New Town project is the city’s large-scale urban redevelopment project started in 2002 that aims to create new residential areas after old ones are demolished.

However, in January last year, Seoul Mayor Park Won-soon declared that the city will re-evaluate the project through a series of feasibility studies, including evaluating each area’s capital requirements while also taking into account the opinions of current residents and landlords.

Park said the project is widely seen as benefiting the wealthy, as it is expected to offer high returns to rich investors.

If more than 30 percent of the group is against participation in the New Town project, the city said in January it will lift the designation. A total 35 districts were designated for the project and Changsin-Sungin is the first to be excluded. The Changsin-Sungin district was designated as part of the project in 2007.

Previously, some sectors of each district including the 1 and 2 sectors in Dongdaemun District, central Seoul, had requested to be excluded from the designation. The city government said that more than half of the district’s sectors including sectors 7-10 and 12 in Changsin-dong and sectors 1 and 2 in Sungin-dong requested the city government cancel the designation in April last year.

Under the relevant regulations of the project, at least 500,000 square meters (123.6 acres) of residential land must be secured to carry out the project, but only about 400,000 square meters of land will be secured when those sectors are removed from the designation.

The city government said that most local merchants in the area produce apparel sold in the Dongdaemun markets and they had been consistently opposed to the New Town project as it was widely seen that those merchants would not be resettled when the area is redeveloped.

“Residents and landlords in the district had been prevented from exercising their property rights,” said Lee Geon-ki, director of the city’s housing policy division. “We think the livelihoods of those residents and merchants in the area will be stabilized.”

BY KWON SANG-SOO [sakwon80@joongang.co.kr]

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