Seoul's skyline to rise to new heights as limits are lifted
Seoul’s skyline is set to rise higher as residents push to have their buildings demolished and taller buildings put in their place.
A union representing owners of Sinbanpo 2-cha apartment complex in Jamwon-dong, southern Seoul, wants to raze the existing 12-story apartments and have 49-story structures built.
The apartment complex, completed in 1978, is one of the oldest in Seoul.
“Increasing the number of floors will avoid having the apartment buildings right next to each other,” said Kim Young-il, the head of the apartment owners union.
Owners of the 12-story Sanho Apartment complex in Wonhyoro 4-ga, Yongsan, Seoul, are currently considering a revision to an existing plan.
The apartments, built in 1977, were to be replaced with 35-story buildings. Now the owners union wants 47-story buildings.
Many of the apartment complexes with owners desiring more floors are near the Han River, including neighborhoods such as Yeouido, Yeongdeungpo, Yongsan, Jamwon and Seocho.
The efforts come on the heels of the Seoul Metropolitan Government easing skyline regulations under Mayor Oh Se-hoon, who was elected last year.
The new plan, which is expected to be rolled out before the end of this year, is expected to scrap the 35-story high limit set by Mayor Park Won-soon in 2014.
Residential buildings in neighborhoods on Han River have been restricted to 15 stories.
Mayor Park believed that allowing the number of stories to be increased will only benefit the apartment owners making them richer while making the apartments less affordable.
With heights restricted, construction companies were less eager to pursue projects that also limited their earnings, leading to aging apartments that became safety hazards.
The only exception among Seoul apartments is the 56-story high Raemian Caelitus in Ichon-dong, Yongsan and the 47-story Seoul Forest Trimage in Seongsu-dong.
They were built before the skyline limit was implemented.
“If the cap is relaxed, the skyline along the Han River will become more diverse and improve the city view,” said Park Hap-su, an adjunct professor at Konkuk University graduate school of real estate.
The recent change in the Seoul city government’s attitude toward projects has contributed to the demand for higher apartment buildings.
Jamsil Jugong 5 Danji was to rise to 50 stories but the owners were rebuffed by Mayor Park. The plan was finally approved in February.
The plan was approved by the city government after the apartment complex was re-designated as a residential-commercial mixed zone, which helps avoid the 35-story restriction.
Other similar approvals were made under Mayor Oh, including the 49-story high Gongjak Apartment in August and the 65-story high Sibeom Apartments earlier this month.
Both apartment complexes are located in Yeouido.
While the new relaxed regulation is yet to be implemented, some projects have been able to proceed, said Kim Je-kyung of Tumi Real Estate Consulting.
Other plans are being updated.
These projects include Eunma Apartments, with buildings set to rise 35 stories.
GS E&C, which was picked to rebuild Hangang Mansion, in Ichon-dong, has submitted two sets of plans, one with buildings rising 35 stories and the other with them rising 68 stories.
“We will determine the height of the apartment buildings considering the characteristics of the neighborhood,” said a Seoul government official. “It would be difficult to allow 50 stories high or taller apartments if the surrounding residential buildings are low rises or if the newly built apartments hurt the surrounding view.”
The floor-area ratio is one obstacle, and mayor Oh has no plan to change the ratio. Under the current law, the maximum floor area for residential buildings is 300 percent of the ground area.
BY HWANG EUI-YOUNG [email@example.com]