The Imminent rise of Ho Chi Minh City 's Eastern regional centreResidential projects, universities and a high-tech park sprout up in the eastern part of HCMC amid fast-rising population growth.

In the previous article, we explored the changing nature of Ho Chi Minh City’s Core Central Region. In this article, we will look at an equally important urban trend in HCMC; that of the growth of the regional centres. Statistics show that population growth within the Core Central Region has stagnated, in contrast, the largest growth in population is registered in both the geographic areas zoned as the Eastern and Southern Regional Centres.

Increasing number of infrastructure works are put in place by the government in these regional centres; land use rights are traded to developers in exchange for the construction of highways, roads and other public works in what was once no-man’s land. As such, big real estate companies have rushed in to carry out large scale residential developments consisting of apartment buildings and landed housing compounds, together with the supporting amenities making up a self-contained mini-township. The Regional Centres are envisioned in the current masterplan to play an increasingly important role in the progress of HCMC. By providing a sustainable planned urban area that has avoided past planning mistakes and though good practices, a higher quality living environment without the problems plaguing the central region of HCMC is the end result. Incessant problems plaguing the central region such as traffic jams along heavily used roads, polluted inner city waterways affecting living quality, slums that house the poor who cannot afford a proper place to live, lack of greenery due to neglect in the face of rapid development, haphazard urbanization that resulted in ridiculously small houses and a messy appearance of having lowrise buildings wall to wall with tall multi-storey buildings. All these problems are noticeably missing in the planned Regional Centres. Moreover, the rise of the Regional Centres has encouraged migration from the Central Region of HCMC outwards to make full use of the quality living environment and the avoidance of said problems. The presence of improved transportation connectivity to the commercial heart of HCMC, enjoyment of quality living environment, development of more complete amenities and public facilities, lack of traffic jams causing delays in commute, more greenery beautifying the landscape, and lack of pollution, all contributed to the pull factor of the Regional Centres. The migration of people to the Regional Centres can help create breathing space and ease the pressures on infrastructure within the Central Region, allowing re-development to take place, hence addressing the urban problems and allowing improvements to the general environment there.

Eastern Regional Centre

Covering a total area of 211 sq km, adjacent to the HCMC-Long Thanh-Dau Giay Expressway with central quarters at Thu Thiem New Urban Area in District 2, makes up the Eastern Regional Centre. The eastern districts of HCMC possess many geographic advantages for growth; it is the gateway connecting HCMC with the Southeast, Central and North of Vietnam. As a golden piece of land with numerous advantages, it connects HCMC with the industrial and export processing zones in Binh Duong and Dong Nai Provinces, and also the largest oil producing province of Ba Ria-Vung Tau along the South China Sea.

As part of the plan to have the Eastern Regional Centre emphasize partly on education and research, Thu Duc District already has established a university village with the setting up of many toptier university campuses here. Nong Lam University and Vietnam National University HCMC with its six other member universities; HCMC University of Economics and Law, HCMC University of Social Sciences and Humanities, HCMC University of Technology, HCMC University of Sciences, HCMC International University, and HCMC University of Information Technology, are a sampling of educational institutions located there.

Apart from education and research, another key emphasis of the Eastern Regional Centre is high-tech industries. Currently, a sprawling Saigon High Tech Park was carved out within District 9, providing a conducive technological research and manufacturing hub with a vision to turning it into a techno-polis in 2020. Well-known international brands such as Intel and Samsung had already set up base here with more to follow in future.

High population growth

It was reported recently in The Saigon Times that “The population in the eastern districts has grown faster than envisaged in the approved urban zoning plans, and the development of infrastructure for the districts.” According to the report, the municipal government has issued a warning to the various government agencies regarding the higher than expected population growth in the east of the city (Districts 2, 9 and Thu Duc), which form the boundaries of the Eastern Regional Centre; in the past two years, many large housing developers such as Novaland, Sonkim Land, Thao Dien Investment, Thuduc House and Nam Long have carried out dozens of housing projects, in what was once primarily dominated by land plot projects. They are now shifting towards high-rise apartments as infrastructure improved.

Residential projects that are contributing to the rapid growth of the Eastern Regional Centre and are set to dominate the landscape are sprouting out all along the axis of transport development starting in District 2 and spreading eastwards to District 9, the eastmost district in the city (where large tracts of vacant land are available). In Thu Duc District, large plots of populated land are cleared to make way for high-rise apartment projects to house the growing needs and demand from the population.

A particular standout growth spot is District 2 Thao Dien-An Phu Wards, made up of high-end residences with top class amenities on both sides of the Hanoi Highway starting at the Saigon Bridge and more particularly along the route of HCMC’s Metro Line Number 1 (that starts from Suoi Tien Theme Park in District 9 and terminates at Ben Thanh Market in District 1, passing through parts of District 2 and Binh Thanh District). Notable recent projects open for sale include the likes of Masteri Thao Dien, Gateway Thao Dien, The Nassim and Estella Heights, all in varying stages of construction.

Recent projects

Residents at Masteri Thao Dien can enjoy great views of downtown Saigon’s skyline to the west and natural surroundings to the east. The project by Thao Dien Investment JSC consists of high-end apartments, parks, lakes, swimming pools, a sports centre, and a playground. As part of its 8-ha project, it will have the largest shopping centre to the east of HCMC, built and operated by Vincom (an upmarket retail operator). The project is directly connected to one of the metro stations along Metro Line Number 1 and will be the heart of Thao Dien Ward in District 2, offering a harmonious fusion of modern life and a peaceful living environment.

A stone throw away from Masteri, also fronting the Hanoi Highway and along the Metro Line 2 lies the project site of Gateway Thao Dien; jointly developed by Hamon Investment Group and Sonkim Land, it is positioned as a luxurious apartment development providing quality apartments and excellent service for its residents. It is designed and constructed by famous brand names in real estate development. Being particular with the project design plus selection of materials and finishing, the developers intend to set a new standard in the definition of luxury apartments in Vietnam. The project occupies 10,944 sq m of land; within the complex residents can expect food and beverage establishments, a sports centre, an outdoor swimming pool, aerobic centre, children’s playground and a zoological garden.

The newest project addition to District 2, also by Sonkim Land in partnership with Hongkong Land is The Nassim. This project, similar to the other offering by Sonkim Land and in keeping with the positioning of the general area, is a premium condominium residential project. It comprises high-end residential units and offers a premier location and exclusivity unparalleled in the market. The project is fringed by an exclusive enclave of low-rise, single-storey private residences, and it enjoys magnificent panoramic views of Saigon River, providing residents with an inspiring and luxurious urban lifestyle.

In-house top-notch facilities include a swimming pool, gyms, sauna, jacuzzi, yoga room, kids playground, BBQ pits, etc. Amenities are also located in the vicinity of The Nassim; residents can expect international schools, international medical practices, well known restaurants as well as leading shopping malls and departmental stores. The project is expected to be completed in 2018.

Across the Hanoi Highway from the above projects sits Estella Heights, a prestigious development by the renowned international developer Keppel Land (based out of Singapore). Conveniently located in the heart of District 2, Estella Heights is within a 15 minutes’ drive to the central business district via Hanoi Highway or Thu Thiem Tunnel. Set amidst lush landscaping, Estella Heights comprises of thoughtful layouts and well-furnished apartments. Residents can luxuriate in comfort with the wide range of facilities and amenities including a gymnasium, sky gardens, a 400-meter jogging trail, tennis courts, two 50-meters swimming pools and a lazy pool.

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