This is the 4th annual Ho Chi Minh City construction update at Future Southeast Asia. (If you are new to the site, here are the updates for 2019, 2020, and 2021.) This update features some of the most prominent projects that are under construction, and projects that have had noteable news updates over the past year.
IFC One Saigon
Let’s start the 2022 edition of the Ho Chi Minh City construction update with some amazing news. After a decade of haunting the city skyline with its abandoned concrete shell, Saigon One has found a new developer and it is now IFC One Saigon. This 41-floor tower will include office and residential space with a retail podium.
There have been other projects that have stalled and then been taken over by a new developer, only to remain stalled. The new owner (Viva Land) is now on the site and removing the original glass in preparation for the new glass facade. The new triangular façade design will create a dragon scale effect.
I stated using Saigon as a travel base in September 2012, a few months after this project stalled. This ghost tower has been a permanent fixture in my time here, so I wont believe it is finished until I am surveying the city skyline from the rooftop bar. For now, it seems like it is back on track.
[Are these the last days of the Ghost Tower of Saigon?]
Thu Thiem 2 Bridge
Equally amazing as the resumption of the Saigon One tower was the completion of the Thu Thiem 2 Bridge. Construction of this bridge broke ground in February 2015, and it was inaugurated in April 2022, taking over seven years to complete.
One Central HCM
While IFC One Saigon reanimated from its decade-long zombie status, One Central HCM has fallen back into stalled status. This project has been off and on for years, and it appeared to be making good progress last year when the two towers on top of the podium began construction.
I was hoping that this would get finished in time for the opening of the metro line, so then the entire Ben Thanh area could be done with construction mess.
Read more about One Central HCM.
Ben Thanh Station and Le Loi
Ben Thanh Station is the future central station of the HCMC Metro, and there will eventually be three lines that interchange here. Line 1 is years overdue, and I will do a separate report on the status of the metro.
The major structural work at Ben Thanh is finished, so the surface above the station is being returned for public use in the next few months. At the moment it’s still a giant construction site so it is hard to tell what it will look like in the end.
Le Loi (the street between Ben Thanh and the Opera House) is also being restored after being sealed off for construction use. This used to be a tree-lined street with four rows of trees. Disturbingly, the section at the Opera House metro hasn’t had any new trees planted. I had read that this was going to be landscaped with a walking plaza. Instead, they have restored 10 lanes of road on a road that doesn’t need 10 lanes. I am hoping this is temporary until they come up with a design for a pedestrian plaza.
[The new Le Loi – where are the trees?]
The Nexus finally restarted after some false starts. The Nexus will comprise three towers on the District 1 riverfront. The towers will be a mix of offices and apartments, with food/retail on the lower floors.
Thu Thiem Eco Smart City
Thu Thiem Eco Smart City is another project that has encountered years of delays. South Korean conglomerate Lotte is developing the project, but they were held up by the Thu Thiem Parish Church, which refused to move from its riverside location. The church won in the end, so Lotte had to go back to the drawing board to make a new plan without the church land.
There haven’t been any updated images of what the project will look like, but there has been movement on the site. The land has been boarded up with Eco Smart City branding. Read more about Thu Thiem Eco Smart City.
Another project that has been dragging on for years (like everything in the Thu Thiem New Urban Area) is Empire City.
Progress has at least been made here, with some of the apartment complexes finished and lived in. The street level is also filling in with some shops.
The landmark tower by Büro Ole Scheeren has not started yet, and at the moment the land that it will occupy remans an empty lot.
Read more about Empire City.
The Metropole is billed at “the new metropolis of Saigon”.
The Metropole is turning out to be the success story of the riverfront Thu Thiem developments. Even though Empire City and Eco Smart City have had a longer head start, The Metropole has made significant progress over the last year.
The Metropole is at the Thu Thiem side of the Thu Thiem 2 Bridge, and this area is now starting to hint at the promise of what this new urban area was meant to look like.
There is still no word yet on what the opera house project will look like. The government wanted an iconic building next to the new bridge, inspired by the Sydney Harbour Bridge and Opera House. The Metropole has been using a placeholder building in the location of the opera house.
The Hilton Saigon is almost (finally!) complete. This hotel project has also taken years, though pandemic shutdowns didn’t help it. From a distance it looks finished, and I have seen the LED lights being tested out on some nights.
The front has been landscaped and it has been sealed up waiting to open.
Grand Marina Saigon
Grand Marina Saigon is a multi-tower serviced apartment project in the Bason area on the Saigon River. This is the first JW Marriott & Marriott branded residence in Vietnam, (apparently the largest Marriott branded residence in the world).
The Grand Marina project includes the former Centennial project by Alpha King. This tower was half-finished before it was abandoned, and what happened to the other Alpha King projects remains unknown.
[Grand Marina former Centennial tower.]
Sun Tower is another project that has been years in the making. The tower broke ground in 2021, and construction is now progressing above ground.
[Sun Tower construction site viewed from Thu Thiem 2 Bridge.]
Techcombank Saigon Tower
Techcombank Saigon Tower on Le Duan St is almost finished.
The Grand Manhattan
The Grand Manhattan is progressing well. This is the first big project in this street of District 1. It’s an old street in a central location, so it will stand out among its surroundings.
The name annoys me though as there is nothing Manhattanesque about it (there are also apartments in Saigon with Lincoln and Madison it its name). The illustrated photo is also proof of why you (or someone representing you) should do a site inspection.
The Eximbank Tower is a proposed office tower behind the One Central HCM project. This was planned in in 2012, and then it was put on hold. A local news site reported in May 2022 that Eximbank’s general meeting of shareholders approved the construction of new headquarters. Some new posters featuring the refreshed bank logo have been added to the construction fences.
The Global City
The most globally high-profile new project over the last year was the announcement of The Global City by Masterise. I say globally high-profile as the architectural advisor for this development is Foster + Partners. With such a world-famous name, The Global City was featured on most of the major architecture news sites.
The project is still in the preparation stage, so I didn’t do a site visit. Instead, I visited the Masterise showroom in An Phu.
[Masterise showroom in An Phu.]
This project already disappoints me for several reasons. First of all, where is the signature building? Foster and Partners are famous for their famous buildings, including the Gherkin and the Great Court. Why employ a starchitect if they aren’t going to build a global landmark.
[Model of The Global City.]