New HCMC opera house plans criticized for occupying green space

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Ho Chi Minh City plans to build it's new 1,700-seat Opera, Ballet Theater at September 23 Park in District 1, but voices of protest are asking that city's limited green space be left alone and the project move elsewhere.

The new building will cover 1.2 ha of the park, bounded by Ton That Tung, Le Lai and Pham Ngu Lao streets. It is planned to open by the end of 2015.

It will include two halls with views of Ben Thanh Market and will be designed by German company Busmann+Haberer Muller Inros Lackner.

However, critics and opponents of the project say it will destroy an important plot of green space in a city that is wildly in need of more trees, parks and open space. They say the theater could and should be built elsewhere.

"There is no other better, more suitable place [to build the theater],' Tran Chi Dung, director of the city's Department of Planning and Architecture, told local news website VnExpress.

The structure will occupy 10 percent of the park, according to Dung.

"Its location is very convenient for the recreation demands of most people, and the theater itself is expected to embellish the park's beauty and function."

September 23 Park is not the only option, but planners say it is better than the city's Zoological and Botanical Garden and Dien Hong Meeting Hall, which were both considered as which had been considered to house the theater.

Planners say the location is too good to pass up, near most major downtown streets as well as near a major stop on the planned subway coming to Ho CHi Minh City sometime this decade. 

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