The Hanoi People’s Committee has just issued a plan on the first phase renovation of old apartments and has ordered people to vacate six condos classified as “dangerous” within the first quarter of 2022.
Under the plan, all residents of the six condos must be relocated by March, and work on demolishing, renovating and rebuilding them be finished within this year.
The six rotten apartment buildings include four in the inner city district of Ba Dinh, including C8 Giang Vo condo, G6A Thanh Cong, Ngoc Khanh, and the apartment blocks of the Ministry of Justice and 148-150 in Son Tay Street, and two others at 51 Huynh Thuc Khang Street in Dong Da District. These buildings were built from 1954 to 1990.
A corner of Giang Vo old apartment building in Hanoi’s downtown district of Ba Dinh. Photo: Ngoc Tu
According to the municipal Department of Construction, some families have refused to move out although they are aware of the danger.
Nguyen Thi Thanh Hao, a resident living at C8 Giang Vo Apartment Building, told The Hanoi Times that her family has lived there for decades and they do not want to leave, especially because of the favorable location of the apartment in downtown Ba Dinh District.
“If we agree with the relocation plan, we would be resettled in other residential areas far from the metropolitan area, which is much less convenient. Moreover, some families here do not agree with the city’s compensation scheme,” Hao said.
"The investor gave us different options. We can return to live in the renovated building in a larger apartment if we add up a large amount of money, at least VND1 billion (about US$44,000). Otherwise, if we want to live in other place, either the compensation is not enough to buy new house, or the house is too far from our old dwelling place," she added.
Hao’s concern is also the view of many dwellers in nearly 1,580 old apartment buildings of two to five floors built between the 1960s and 1990s. Among those, 25% are in the D category, the most dangerous in a four-scale classification with decaying conditions and inadequate utilities.
These apartments are severely degraded and get flooded often. They also have a poor fire protection system and no parking space.
Hanoi has set the goal of basically completing the renovation and rebuilding of old apartments by 2045. However, for the past 20 years, the city’s authorities have been able to renovate only 1% of the total old apartment buildings, only 19 apartment blocks have been upgraded or rebuilt and work remains ongoing at 14 others.
In the second session of the 16th Hanoi People’s Council, which took place last September, 100% of deputies present agreed on a resolution to renovate and repair old apartments in Hanoi with an estimated budget of VND500 billion (US$22 million) for the 2021-2025 period.
The Kim Lien old apartment building on Pham Ngoc Thach Street in Hanoi’s Dong Da District. Photo: Anh Tuan
In an interview with The Hanoi Times via phone, Director of the municipal Department of Construction Vo Nguyen Phong said the city would first review the current conditions of old and dangerous apartment buildings that are at high risk of collapsing, and the process is set to be complete before the second quarter of 2023.
“Around ten old apartment buildings would be selected for reparation during the 2021-2025 period, including those in Kim Lien, Trung Tu, Nghia Tan, Thanh Xuan Bac, or Thanh Xuan Trung wards,” Phong said.
He added that the municipal government urged local authorities to speed up the review process to soon move locals out of dangerous zones.
“There should be a long-term and consistent plan to renovate old buildings to improve living standards, which is part of the city’s efforts to transform itself into a green city,” Phong stressed.
In July, the Government issued decree No.69/2021/ND-CP on renovation and reconstruction of apartment buildings, creating a legal framework on compensation and resettlement for affected households.
According to Phong, the decree is seen as a major step towards the acceleration of renovation and reconstruction of old apartment buildings, as it defines in detail which types of condominiums are subject to rebuilding along with compensation plans and support for resettlement.
The latest decree and resolution of the Hanoi People’s Council could drive forward the transformation of the old building landscape in the city, as the reconstruction of old apartments remain a priority for Hanoi in the 2021-2025 period, Phong noted.
The Hanoi People's Committee has requested district-level People's Committee to set up plan for compensation, support, resettlement, and temporary housing for apartment owners and tenants. This plan will be submitted to relevant authorities for approval.
Many iron caged-balconies are built in the back of many old apartments in Hanoi. Photo: Thanh Luan
Architect Dao Ngoc Nghiem, Vice President of the Hanoi Urban Planning and Development Association told The Hanoi Times that Hanoi's project on upgrading old apartment buildings in the metropolitan area is expected to improve the living conditions of many Hanoians, leaving behind worries about the danger of collapse while the city’s landscape will also improve.
Nghiem said that Hanoi’s decision on speeding up the comprehensive renovation of old apartment buildings is considered a breakthrough. It is not only orientation but also a tool for speeding up the renovation of old apartments in Hanoi.
However, in order to fulfill the targets, it is necessary to soon find the solutions for many issues mentioned in the project such as capital sources, construction technology, resettlement, compensation for site clearance, among others.
The municipal Department of Construction said that Hanoi has called for private investment in 28 decayed buildings and so far some 16 investors have registered to take part in the renovation. However, according to investors, a number of regulations covering private investment in this aspect are not suitable with reality.
“To accelerate the work of renovating and rebuilding old apartment complexes in the city, mechanisms related to land compensation, investor selection, and resettlement must be further improved. The benefits for each party (investors and residents) should also be clarified,” said Architect Truong Van Quang, from the Vietnam Urban Planning and Development Association.
Quang noted that the renovating old apartments should be the responsibility of the government, not the private sector alone.
Architect Nguyen Van Hai, chairman of the Hanoi Architects Council, also supports the State's leading role in renovating old apartments. “The site clearance for building new condominiums must be carried out under the same principles of site clearance for public infrastructure works, with the participation of the State”, Hai told The Hanoi Times.