Substation relocation slows development plans

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Substation relocation slows development plans

Seoul Metropolitan Government on Wednesday said that it would develop the plot in Gangnam District that formerly served as the headquarters of Korea Electric Power Corporation (Kepco) as scheduled, regardless of whether the district office refuses an early relocation proposal of an underground electric substation there.

The city government held a briefing Wednesday at Seoul City Hall, where it explained that the early relocation of the substation was not part of the negotiations between the city government and Hyundai Motor Group.

Hyundai bought the land after winning a bid worth 10 trillion won ($8.4 billion) in September 2014 and is has been in talks with city officials since February over a detailed construction plan for its new headquarters, the Global Business Center (GBC).

“Relocating the underground substation was recently brought up as an obstacle in the construction process,” said Jin Hee-seon, who heads the city government’s Urban Regeneration Headquarters. “It’s a separate issue, and it won’t affect negotiations with Hyundai or our permission to build.”

In an attempt to shorten the construction period, Hyundai requested in June that the Gangnam District Office allow for the substation to be relocated before any work begins. The substation currently provides electricity to some 6,000 household in the region. It would take approximately a year and a half for it to be relocated and resume operations.

The district office refused its early relocation, however, arguing that development plans for the area, including the GBC, are not finalized yet.

Hyundai donated 1.7 trillion won to the Seoul Metropolitan Government in June for it to loosen regulations for the GBC, and since then the city government and the district office have squabbled over where to spend the money.

The city government said that even if the substation is not moved right away, its relocation would be included in the construction costs anyway.

“The governor of the Gangnam District Office has the authority to move the substation, but when it’s included in construction plans for the GBC, it’s the mayor who must decide,” Jin said. “And [the substation’s relocation] would typically be included in the actual construction.”

“District residents filed a lawsuit in August to nullify our development plans for the area [which includes Jamsil Stadium in Songpa District] but it still won’t affect our negotiations for the GBC because it doesn’t have any flaws from a legal perspective,” he added.

The city government plans to finish talks with Hyundai within the year. The group submitted an adjusted version of its development plan on Sept. 24, and the city government is scheduled to hold meeting for further adjustments on Friday.

In the latest development plan draft, Hyundai accepted the city government’s suggestion to lower two of its proposed buildings by about 10 floors, from 115 to 105, and from 62 to 51 floors, and divide the two larger buildings into four smaller ones.

An architectural design contest for the GBC ends at the end of October, when the city government will review construction plans with urban planning, construction, traffic, environment and safety experts, among others.

Construction is expected to start in early 2017.

BY KIM BONG-MOON [kim.bongmoon@joongang.co.kr]

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