Thursday, February 10, 2011

Yongsan park - fake forests and real estates

Korea's Ministry of Land, Transport and Maritime Affairs unveiled yesterday* its master plan for the future Yongsan Park (to replace Yongsan US Army Base).

Base case scenario used to be 2017 but now, the first temporary parks are announced for as early as 2015... and completion for as late as 2025.

The shape didn't change : as scheduled, the park is connected to Namsan at the Northeastern end, the National Museum of Korea cuts a big rectangle at the Southern end, and the Western side is bitten by existing para-military infrastructures (the War Memorial of Korea and the Korean army's buddhist temple near Sinyongsan). The park is split into 6 thematic areas using the usual catch phrases : "U-Eco", "International Culture"...

Obviously, a quick and dirty draft to be updated later. Because the park itself is only a detail, an environmental joke, a mere alibi for what basically represent one of the biggest real estate operations of this young millenium : clearly, what all homeowners around and all developpers nationwide were waiting for were construction guidelines around Seoul's next Central Park.

And the answer came quite clearly : more than 40 stories on average, with up to 50-storey buildings in the Western enclave. The poorly designed Park Towers already overlooking the National Museum will not feel alone anymore... Definitely good news for Yongsan promoters after series of unfortunate events : Yongsan IBD was delayed by stops and go's, one person died resisting to a nearby redevelopment, and further afield costs exploded after the discovery of pollutants in the soil. Note that a similar gift was recently awarded to Apgujeong tenants : whatever the real estate macro-scenario, 50 storey giants will ensure fat profits in that very expensive area - nevermind touching environmental speeches about the Hangang Renaissance...

Frankly, I didn't expect less from a buldozer-friendly government that already authorized universities to build higher on Seoul's last protected mountains, and agressively sacrificed big chunks of the capital's last greenbelt areas.

At least, let's hope the park itself will be an environmental success.

Seoul Village 2011

* see for instance "
남산과 한강 사이… 여의도 크기 서울 용산공원 청사진" (Chosun Ilbo 20110211)

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