Construction of second Lotte World gets nod
By Lee Hyo-sik
Lotte Group, one of Korea's major family-controlled conglomerates, has received a green light from the Seoul Metropolitan Government to build a 123-story skyscraper, called the "Second Lotte World," in southeastern Seoul.
The business group has been attempting to build the landmark near its famous indoor park, Lotte World, in Jamsil for years, but was unable to obtain approval from the government.
Seoul had opposed the construction over worries about possible air pollution and traffic congestion in the densely populated area, while the Air Force had raised concerns over air traffic safety at the nearby Seoul Airport, located in Seongnam, south of Seoul.
But Lotte's decade-long effort has finally paid off thanks largely to President Lee Myung-bak's business-friendly policy stance.
The city government said Wednesday that it had approved the conglomerate's plan to build the 500-meter-high skyscraper on 782,497 square meters of land.
Lotte had initially intended to construct a 112-story building on a 607,849 square-meters site, but with the government turning increasingly favorable toward the scheme, Lotte decided to construct a taller tower in September last year.
Under the plan, the upper part of the building will house a hotel, an observation platform and other leisure-related facilities. Its lower part will be filled with cultural and educational zones.
A large square and park will also be built for nearby residents, while Lotte will pay for laying a 1.4 kilometer road in an adjacent area to ease the expected traffic congestion when the project is completed in 2014.
Building a high-rising skyscraper in Seoul has been a dream of Lotte Group Chairman Shin Kyuk-ho for more than a decade.
At one point, he had almost given up his ambition during the previous Roh Moo-hyun administration as the late former President placed greater emphasis on balanced national growth and introduced a range of chaebol-unfriendly policies.
In particular, Lotte had faced strong opposition from the Air Force, which raised safety concerns about airplanes using nearby Seoul Airport.
The airport is closed to the public and used only for foreign guests visiting the country and military purposes.