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Sluggish ‘Innovative Cities’ Feared to Turn Into Ghost Towns

Sluggish ‘Innovative Cities’ Feared to Turn Into Ghost Towns

Posted September. 06, 2010 13:37,   


“Innovative cities” as pushed for under plans to relocate central government agencies and state-run companies to the provinces have progressed at a snail’s pace, raising doubts over the practicality of such efforts.

Private investment into the cities has been meager at best, and hence plans to attract people and construct innovative clusters in the cities will likely suffer a setback.

According to documents submitted by Korea Land and Housing Corp. to ruling Grand National Party lawmaker Huh Cheon, 6.63 million (32.8 percent) of the 20.18 million square meters of property to be sold was supplied by late July to the nine innovative cities.

Of the supplied property, land going to industries, universities, think tanks and housing projects amounted just to a million square meters, or 10.4 percent.

The documents suggested that just 10 percent (13,000 square meters) of the property earmarked for clusters designed for private companies, universities and think tanks from 2013 was supplied. There were no records of land supply whatsoever in seven areas except the port city of Ulsan and South Gyeongsang Province.

The housing environment for incoming residents was also found to be poor. A combined 6.55 million square meters of property was developed for housing, including that for single-family homes, apartments and residential commercial facilities. But only 901,000 square meters (13.8 percent) of land were supplied to the private sector.

The innovative city plan seeks to turn provincial cities that state-run companies and government agencies will relocate to into regional hubs by attracting think tanks and companies.

Of the 105 government-affiliated companies and agencies to relocate to nine innovative cities, only 42 have signed contracts to purchase land.

The Land, Transport and Maritime Affairs Ministry aims to complete the relocation of central government agencies and state-run companies to those cities by late 2012. The ministry will enable private companies, universities and think tanks to move there in phases between 2013 and 2020.

Rep. Huh said, “In light of land supply records on the innovative cities, I doubt whether the government agencies and companies will relocate to those provincial regions in two years.”

“If the projects progress at their current pace, the plan to build clusters of industry, academia and think tanks will go up in smoke. Even if public agencies do move to those cities, the cities will likely turn into ghost towns because they lack residential areas ready for employees of government-run agencies and companies.”