Saigoneer

How Saigon Plans to Avoid the 'Car Age'

“A developed city is not one in which the poor get around by car but one in which the rich get around by public transit” - Enrique Peñalosa, former mayor of Bogotá.

It seems like every time I’m stalled in traffic, cars and buses are to blame. Nimble motorbikes can easily navigate hectic traffic patterns (and drive on sidewalks) and buses get a pass since they’re the city’s only form of public transportation (and their numbers are fairly static). In a city designed without cars in mind, their increasing numbers are becoming a serious obstacle for the flow of traffic. But, while some curse cars, others are buying them at a record rate – the number of new cars sold in the first quarter of this year was higher than the total sold in 2012. Can Saigon complete its public transportation network fast enough to avoid “the age of the car”?

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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.

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As Thu Thiem Stalls, City Rushes to Lure Investors

Development of Thu Thiem was supposed to be the crown jewel of Saigon’s urban expansion. Since 1996, plans have been in place to turn this green swath of land, directly across from District 1, into the city’s new center. Although the city has cleared most of the land, a faltering economy, lack of infrastructure and high leasing fees have stalled the project.

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The Ghost Town of Thu Thiem

As we’ve written about before, there are big plans to re-develop Thu Thiem into Saigon’s new business and finance center. For the last few years, the city has demolished entire neighborhoods to clear the site, turning part of District 2 into a ghost town. While the grand re-development is at a standstill, there are those who live in its shadows, amidst the rubble and half-standing houses.

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Massive Transportation Plan for Saigon Revealed

We’ve heard a lot over the last few years about proposed improvements to Saigon’s transportation infrastructure. These include the new Long Thanh International Airport and expanding the city center into District 2.

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Pullman Saigon Center Tops Out

The concrete skeleton  at the corner of Tran Hung Dao and Nguyen Cu Trinh topped out just before Tet and is set to open later this year.

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Skyline Update: Eximbank Tower

Rendering of Eximbank Tower.

Get ready for a major addition to the Saigon skyline – the Eximbank Tower. On December 17th, Eximbank announced the 40 story project, led by Turner and Nikken Sekkei design consultants.

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Skyline Update: Eximbank Tower

Rendering of Eximbank Tower.

Get ready for a major addition to the Saigon skyline – the Eximbank Tower. On December 17th, Eximbank announced the 40 story project, led by Turner and Nikken Sekkei design consultants.

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Power Players: Hydroelectricity

Hydroelectric plant.

This is the first article in our series “Power Players” which examines the different paths Vietnam is pursuing to feed its power-thirsty cities and industrial centers.

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Bringing Back the Green

Green bedroom. Source: New York Times

The idea of “going green” is gaining popularity in our fair Vietnam, and while the government talks about it on a national level, there are plenty of good examples of individual applications of the concept.

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