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Seoul plans apartments on top of highways

Dec 27,2018
The Seoul city government announced Wednesday a plan to develop an additional 80,000 public housing units in the city by 2022, some of which will be built on top of highways and bus depots.

Of the total, around 55,000 apartments will be supplied by utilizing existing buildings, such as office buildings in central Seoul, including the Jongno and Yongsan Districts, and empty houses in less-populated areas of the city.

The plan is in line with a proposal to repurpose unused office space in central Seoul to provide more public housing to low and middle-income households that Mayor Park Won-soon announced in October.

Another 25,000 housing units will be built on top of bus depots in Gangdong District, eastern Seoul; Songpa District, southern Seoul; Gangseo District, western Seoul, and in unused public spaces throughout the city, including in Jungnang District, eastern Seoul, and Gwanak District, southern Seoul. The city is putting an emphasis on building around existing infrastructure.

“In a few years, we’ll be able to see innovative architecture in Seoul like Osaka’s Gate Tower and Berlin’s Schlangenbader Strasse, built on top of a highway,” the Seoul Metropolitan Government said in a statement Wednesday.

It intends to develop 1,000 public housing units on top of Bukbu Expressway between Seoul and Gyeonggi, 300 at the end of the Gyeongui Line Forest Park in Mapo District, western Seoul, and another 300 on top of a drainage pump station in Eunpyeong District, northern Seoul.

If all goes as planned into 2022, the 80,000 public housing units will join the nearly 300,000 public housing units existing in Seoul. Of these units, 130,000 have been provided during Mayor Park Won-soon’s administration, which started in 2011.

Those eligible to apply for public housing in Seoul include young adults just starting their career, newlywed couples, the elderly and low-income families, though eligibilities tend to differ based on the program. The city government rents or sells public housing for less than the market price to help economically and socially disadvantaged people afford housing in Seoul.

“The right to housing is a fundamental one for citizens,” Park said in a press briefing on Wednesday at Seoul City Hall. “The details to the policy announced today are in line with the city administration’s policy that the government needs to provide for the welfare of the current and future generations of Korea.”

With the increase in public housing, the city government hopes to be able to better control housing prices in Seoul. Public housing makes up about 7 percent of all housing in Seoul.

“The plan is to have public housing take up more than 10 percent of total housing in Seoul,” Park said. “This should help the city government have more control over the housing market in the city.”

The city government had to put on hold development plans for Yeouido and Yongsan District in western and central Seoul in August after a spike in real estate speculation.

BY ESTHER CHUNG [chung.juhee@joongang.co.kr]