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City Center Overhaul to be "Harmonious"

For those skeptical about the recently announced changes to the city center, Nguyen Trong Hoa - Director of the Ho Chi Minh City Institute of Development Studies and one of the plan’s authors – explains that unlike previously overambitious plans, the new one is measured and harmonious. Take this with a grain of salt, of course, but at least the city is aware of why previous plans failed and are taking a more cautious approach this time around.

According to Hoa, city planners had been “too hasty” in their submission of grand plans the city was unable to afford. Previous plans also saw residents moved before their new housing was available:

“Together with inharmonic implementation, many residents were evicted from their homes before there were new ones for them to move into.”

To this end, Hoa said that city planners are doing their best to limit the number of displaced residents and ensure that homes are available on time:

“It should not cause any disorder. The plan does not call for ‘development at all costs,’ but harmonizes the demand for culture, education, healthcare, etc.”

The approved plan will completely redefine the layout and borders of Saigon's city center. 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.

Hopefully, Hoa is sincere about the plan’s measured approach as all too often, locals get the short end of the stick when it comes to redevelopment in Vietnam.

[Thanh Nien // Photo Via Michael Huy]

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