City planners want clusters of businesses

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City planners want clusters of businesses

The Seoul Metropolitan Government yesterday announced that it plans to designate Gangnam and the Yeouido and Youngdeungpo districts as urban centers, elevating their administrative status from that of subcenters. The step is part of a comprehensive development plan for the city known as “2030 Seoul Plan.”

The methods of implementing the master plan are still somewhat vague, but the concept is to focus development of different parts of the city by function, including making distinctions between areas for international activities and others that emphasize local services and businesses. Currently, the Gwanghwamun-Jongno center is the only one designated under 2030 Seoul. The development plan is not a true zoning document, although it includes height restrictions on buildings in some areas. It is more of a method to encourage growth and differentiation among the economic activities in the city.

Yesterday’s announcement said Gangnam would be designated an international business center, Yeouido-Youngdeungpo an international financial area and Gwanghwamun-Jongno an international cultural area. Officials said the master plan is an attempt to increase Seoul’s global competitiveness. “I’ve always thought that having only one central business district is not enough for Seoul to become a competitive international city,” said Park Won-soon, Seoul’s mayor.

“Seoul will make future city policies and prioritize them based on this urban planning blueprint,” said Lee Je-won, director of the urban planning division at City Hall.

The status of a center or subcenter area will have some zoning implications, even if the plans are not completely developed. The main one is building heights in designated areas.

The newly-listed subdistricts include Jamsil, just south of the Han River; the Chang-dong and Sanggye neighborhood in northern Seoul; Magok and the Gasan-Daerim neighborhoods in the southwest. The existing subcenters are central Yongsan, Cheongryangri and Wangsimni in eastern Seoul and Sangam and Susaek to the west.

The subcenters will be organized to handle services and businesses for Koreans; the new centers will, in the plan’s goals, become international landmarks that can attract more foreign businesses.

The plan still faces a review by the Ministry of Land, Infrastructure and Transport, which should be completed by the end of the year. If approved, a final plan could be agreed by the end of the year.

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