Hanoi proceeds with underground parking lot project

By Mai Ha, Thanh Nien News

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 People work out at Hanoi's Thong Nhat Park. Photo: T.N
Authorities in Hanoi have decided to go ahead with a plan to develop a 10,000-square meter underground parking lot inside one of its major public parks despite strong criticism.
Speaking at a press conference on Tuesday, Luu Quang Huy, spokesperson of the People's Committee of Hanoi, said the city's Party unit has approved the project, which will have three floors under Thong Nhat Park that can accommodate more than 1,000 cars. There will also be a shopping mall. 
The project, which will be developed by private investors, is meant to repurpose the existing underground structures of a suspended hotel project, Huy said. 
Addressing public concerns about possible impacts on the environment and one of the city's rare green spaces, the official assured that there will be no construction on the ground.
Developers will be obliged to replant all affected trees and restore pedestrian lanes after finishing their underground construction, he said.
The People's Committee is working on a detailed plan and will collect public opinion, Huy said.
The parking lot project initiated in 2013, around the same time when the city suspended the SAS controversial Hanoi Royal Hotel project. 
Similar criticism prompted local authorities to bring the hotel project to a halt after eight years of construction. 
By then Singaporean-owned SIH Investment Limited, which collaborated with Hanoi Tourist in the hotel project, had invested more than US$13.3 million, local media reported.
The foreign investor was then reportedly compensated with another piece of land in the capital city. It was allowed to develop a new project without having to partner with a local investor.

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