UK expert tells Vietnam city government not to rush on new urban area

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Howard Dawber speaks at a meeting with the HCMC administration about the city's Thu Thiem urban area on August 28

Ho Chi Minh City should be deliberate and flexible in developing its Thu Thiem urban area into a financial center since demand for office space is still very low, a British expert has advised.

Howard Dawber, strategic advisor to the UK-based Canary Wharf Group, told the city administration at a meeting August 28 that the low demand for office space would worry prospective investors in the urban area in District 2, news website thoibaokinhtesaigon reported.

Buildings even in the downtown area -- like Bitexco Financial Tower, the second tallest building in Vietnam -- has only leased out 60 percent of its office space, he pointed out.

He suggested that the city should look at long-term benefits and focus on popularizing the urban area, offering incentives to investors.

It is very important to get people to know about Thu Thiem and the city should spend on activities to popularize it, he said. Once the public gets interested in the project, investors would come, he said.

           HCMC wants to upgrade Thu Thiem peninsula into a financial center

Dawber shared some of his firm's experiences in developing Canary Wharf in London, the city's major business district and the largest banking centre in Europe, on land remaining unused until 25 years ago, and compared it with Thu Thiem's current situation.

Thu Thiem peninsula, on which the urban area is developed, is very similar to Canary Wharf in terms of scale and topography, he said.

When the latter was built in London, office prices are very low.

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HCMC should therefore keep land prices low to attract investors, but ensure they complete their projects on schedule, he said.

Thu Thiem urban area will measure 657 hectares. It is expected to provide accommodation for 160,000 residents and office space for around 450,000 people, and receive one million visitors daily.

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