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​Military land turns commercial real estate, affecting expansion of Saigon airport

Monday, July 02, 2018, 18:01 GMT+7

A golf course adjacent to Tan Son Nhat International Airport in Ho Chi Minh City is not the only obstacle hindering the expansion of the overloaded airdrome, but a real estate project developed on an adjoining land plot previously zoned for national defense purposes is also to blame.

Previously categorized as a military asset, the piece of land in question, spanning nearly 60,000 square meters, lies along Tan Son Street in Tan Binh District, next to the golf course situated north of Tan Son Nhat.

The property project on this land plot has received approval from the municipal People’s Committee, according to a probe by Tuoi Tre (Youth) newspaper.

As Tan Son Nhat has become increasingly overloaded, an expansion of the airport has been more urgent than ever.

During a regular meeting on April 2, Prime Minister Nguyen Xuan Phuc backed the idea of revoking the golf course if the revocation is necessary for the expansion of the airport.

Even so, the expansion will still has another hurdle to clear - the real estate project on Tan Son Street.

Even when it is actually expanded, the northern entrance of the upgraded airport may be blocked by houses and apartment buildings expected to be erected there.

The entrance to the construction site of the project. Photo: Tuoi Tre
The entrance to the construction site of the project. Photo: Tuoi Tre

Homes for military people?

With an initial investment of VND2.185 trillion (US$96.14 million), the real estate project next to Tan Son Nhat is designed to consist of 132 houses with gardens, 46 villas, and a 12-story apartment complex with 830 flats.

It was approved by the Ho Chi Minh City administration in February 2017, with construction expected to take four years from 2017.

The project’s developer, CTK Capital Investment JSC, started selling land plots on the premises in 2016 to mobilize investment, even before receiving approval from the city’s administration in February the following year.

CTK previously signed a deal with Do Thanh JSC in 2014, making the firm its partner in the development of the project.

The project appears to be developed to provide homes for soldiers from Divisions 367 and 370 of the Vietnamese air force and their families.

However, Tuoi Tre has discovered that one does not have to be in the air force to purchase the properties within the project.

The entrance to the construction site of the project. Photo: Tuoi Tre
The entrance to the construction site of the project. Photo: Tuoi Tre

Freely transferred

In May 2017, Tuoi Tre reporters accompanied a married couple from Hanoi who wished to buy several pieces of land at the project.

At that time, ads for the sale of these land plots already flooded the Internet, even though the developer had yet to obtain a construction permit.

Even so, some land brokers revealed that multiple house foundations had been constructed there.

There are four types of land within the site of the project, selling for VND30 million to VND60 million ($2,640) per square meter, according to brokers.

The buyers from Hanoi then met Son, a representative from CTK, who said most prime land plots in the area had been sold.

Son then introduced the buyers to a woman named H., who possessed multiple properties within the project.

On the phone, H. agreed to sell a few of her land plots, but at a much higher rate than the original price.

A map detailing the location of the project next to a golf course situated north of Tan Son Nhat International Airport. Photo: Tuoi Tre
A map detailing the location of the project next to a golf course situated north of Tan Son Nhat International Airport. Photo: Tuoi Tre

Similar to H., another land owner named T. said he would terminate his contract with the developer and suggested them to sign a new one with the buyers.

T. introduced a 60-square-meter land plot, which he bought at VND30 million ($1,320) per square meter from CTK.

“You can purchase this land at the same price as from the developer, but you need to pay me VND19 million [$836] per square meter,” T. stated.

Cooperation between the military and businesses

Tuoi Tre was able to review a written contract between CTK and the air force command, which is under the Ministry of National Defense.

The agreement showed that the military command would give the 60,000-square-meter land to CTK and in return receive 65 percent of the project’s properties.

The remaining 35 percent would belong to CTK and its partner, Do Thanh Company.

The groundbreaking ceremony of the project in September 2017. Photo: Tuoi Tre
The groundbreaking ceremony of the project in September 2017. Photo: Tuoi Tre

As of May 2018, CTK and Do Thanh said the project had been halted, and stopped receiving upfront payments from its buyers.

The cessation of the project was caused by issues surrounding the golf course and expansion of the airport, an officer from Division 370 said.

According to Pham Chanh Truc, former Deputy Secretary of the Ho Chi Minh City Party Committee, military land, if no longer used for national defense purposes, should be transferred to local authorities.

The land could be then used to construct public facilities and infrastructure, contributing to the development of the locality, Truc said.

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Duy Khang / Tuoi Tre News

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