Seoul gov’t announces plan for new developmentThe Seoul city government yesterday unveiled its plan to develop part of the area in southern Seoul surrounding the COEX and Jamsil Baseball Stadium into a new business and cultural hub that will house convention halls, exhibition centers and lodging.
While supporters see the plan as a boost to Seoul’s competitiveness, critics maintain that the initiative lacks concrete planning with regard to the budget and the purchase of property.
A few large buildings in the designated area, including those that used to house the Seoul Medical Center and the Korea Appraisal Board (KAB), are currently empty, while the Korea Electric Power Corporation (Kepco) is planning to move its headquarters following the government’s drive to decentralize the functions of the capital city.
The Seoul Metropolitan Government has also decided to refurbish and extend the COEX convention center and the 30-year-old baseball stadium by adding more conference rooms, concert theaters and a swimming pool.
The areas that will undergo redevelopment encompass large swathes measuring more than 720,000 square meters (177.9 acres).
The Kepco building will mainly feature conference halls and facilities dedicated to accommodating business transactions between foreign and domestic companies.
The city said that the construction will be carried out in an environmentally friendly way in order to reflect Kepco’s commitment to saving energy.
Seoul Mayor Park Won-soon said he hopes the plan will boost Seoul’s standing as a leading international convention city.
“So far, the development plan for the area fell short of fulfilling public interest and was rather disintegrated,” the mayor said yesterday. “But the latest blueprint can turn the region into an international district and local landmark, and will feature venues that will support the future development of promising industries.”
The city also plans to develop an additional 16,000-square-meter area near the planned business district.
“We will transform Yeongdongdae-ro into a subterranean road so that we can secure more ground for the development,” said Lee Je-won, the director of the urban planning division in the city office. “The area [above the underground road] will be developed into an exhibition hall.”
But the city still faces an uphill battle in carrying out the plan, as the Kepco and KAB properties are still owned by private entities.
The city said that it will provide incentives for property owners who agree to comply with the development project.
The extension of COEX and Jamsil Baseball Stadium will cost at least 1 trillion won, given its vast size, property experts estimate.
The construction of an underground highway will also cost a significant amount of money, which could likely add financial pressure to the city government.
The city did not include a specific budget allocation for the project.
BY PARK EUN-JEE [firstname.lastname@example.org]