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Massive Changes Approved for Saigon's City Center

Sometimes wishes do come true. The city government has approved a plan that will completely redefine the layout and borders of Saigon's city center. The highlight of the plan will see the conversion of some District 1 streets into pedestrian-only areas.

Under the new plan, the existing downtown area, covering Districts 1 and 3, will be expanded to five quarters, including an area along the Saigon River in District 4 and Binh Thanh District, the ports along Nguyen Tat Thanh Street and the Tau Hu-Ben Nghe canals. The new downtown ‘core’ will cover 930 hectares including wards where many streets including: Le Loi, Nguyen Hue, Dong Khoi, the roundabout in front of Ben Thanh Market, and part of Huynh Thuc Khang Street will be converted to pedestrian-only areas.

According to Tuoi Tre,

“The area, which will have an expected population of 248,000 people and a land use coefficient of 3.8, will have trams, shuttle buses and waterway traffic facilities along canals.”

The department is working with the plan’s designer, Japan’s Nikken Sekkei Ltd., to come up with a schedule for this massive undertaking.

Here is a breakdown of the proposed five new quarters via Tuoi Tre:

The core quarter for trading and financial activities: This area will cover District 1, including trading centers, hotels, tourist companies, administrative agencies and public service providers. Le Loi and Nguyen Hue Streets will become pedestrian shopping areas. Le Loi Street will be expanded to 56 meters in width while its length will be extended to the back of the City Theatre and to the Ba Son Plant area.

The cultural and historical quarter: Le Duan Street area, including low-rise buildings such as universities, cultural centers, administrative offices, religious facilities and hospitals. It will feature a new green space containing Thong Nhat Hall and the Zoological and Botanical Garden.

The Saigon River’s western bank quarter: Area around the Tan Thuan Bridge will become home to cultural centers, recreational facilities and public spaces.

The low-rise quarter: Covers residential areas including villas that were built during French colonial rule. Many streets in the area will be converted to pedestrian-only, including Le Loi, Nguyen Hue and Dong Khoi Street, the roundabout in front of Ben Thanh Market, and a part of Huynh Thuc Khang Street.

The near-downtown area: Located next to the trading and financial quarter, where high-rises for offices and trade centers will be built next to the Ben Thanh railway terminal, along Ham Nghi Street, Ben Nghe Canal, and Nguyen Thai Hoc Street.

We know it’s going to take more than a little while, but this facelift is exactly what the doctor ordered. 

[Tuoi Tre // Photo via Galen Stolee]

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