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Wednesday, March 31, 2010

Tighten your greenbelt

The Ministry of Land, Transport, and Maritime Affairs delisted five more greenbelt areas in Southern Seoul totalling 21.16 million square meters to make room for urban development, including 87,000 "Bogeumjari" ("Sweet Home") apartments for low income families to be delivered in 2014.

"Sweet Home" means low cost for the owners (long term projects between 15% and 50% below market price), but dear price for the environment.

Last year, two bogeumjari series had already claimed 17 million square meters of protected land in Seoul and neighboring Gyeonggi-do cities :

* 8.06 M sqm for 39,000 apartments (announced in May 2009)
. in Seoul : Segok-dong in Gangnam-gu, Umyeon-dong in Seocho-gu. The opportunity to boost mixity in two wealthy "gus", but both areas are separated from the center by mountains.
. in Goyang : Wonheung-dong in Deogyang-gu. A promising area which will open a new subway station on Line 3 between Samsong and Wondang. Both stations were indeed insanely far away from each other.
. in Hanam : Misa-dong. That's along the Han river, there's a boat race infrastructure in the middle of the dong.

* 8.89 M sqm for 40,505 apartments (announced in October 2009)
. in Seoul : Segok again, and Naegok-dong, next to Segok but in Seocho-gu
. in Bucheon : Okgil-dong, at the frontier with Guro-gu
. in Guri (West) : Galmae-dong, an important entry point to Taereung
. in Namyangju (West) : Jingeon-eup, further afield following the train line.

The new series announced yesterday cover 5 areas, with a focus on the Seoul-Incheon axis and a major New Town in Gwangmyeon :
. in Seoul : 676,000 sqm (4,500 apts including 4,300 bogeumjari) in Hang-dong, Guro-gu. That's between Okgil-dong (see above) and Onsu Station, the very important junction between subway Line 7 and the Seoul-Incheon train.
. in Gwangmyeon and Siheung : 17.367 M square meters (95,000 apts including 69,000 bogeumjari). close to the previous cluster, a gigantic new town is planned, ideally positioned to serve both the Capital city (Gwangmyeon borders Guro-gu and Geumcheon-gu, industrial areas) and it's main international entry point (Incheon, its airport, its harbor). The small number of apartments covers only the public project, not private developments.
. in Incheon : 840,000 sqm (6,000 apts / 4,300 bogeumjari) in Guwol-dong, Namdong-gu. Surrounded by highways 100, 120, and 50, this area is not well served by public transportations, but this might change : I think the Government considers a bed town equidistant from old (harbor) and new (Songdo) centers.
. in Hanam : 1.708 M sqm (12,000 apts / 8,400 bogeumjari) in Gamil-dong. Let's hope Seoul Subway Line 9 will continue this way... even if Songpa-gu / Gangdong-gu residents keep lobbying for a different scenario : a SW/NW parallel to lines 5 and 8.
. in Seongnam : 569,000 sqm (3,800 apts / 2,700 bogeumjari) in Godeung-dong, Sujeong-gu, North of Pangyo InterChange.

More supply, then, with the usual promise to bring down the prices. Unlikely if the discount is only 15%, and if the new houses are only meant as a receptacle for victims of redevelopments in more demanded areas, featuring the standard "apateu" model that disfigured Korea over the past 40 years.

One thing is sure : the Government keeps tightening Seoul's greenbelt, and something will have to be done to make for the loss.

Seoul Village 2010

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