Residents take a look at Yongsan’s renovation plan
January 9, 2009
SEOUL — Hannam Village residents can expect fewer parking spaces and a lot more noise over the next 18 months as construction crews begin renovating the housing area’s three unoccupied high-rise towers Monday.
The good news, U.S. Army Garrison Yongsan commander Col. Dave Hall said during a town hall meeting Tuesday evening, is the renovations will allow 264 families to move onto post and cut the garrison’s housing cost to a third of what they pay for off-base housing.
Hall described the upcoming renovation, paid for by housing contractor Korean National Housing Corporation, as a good business decision for the garrison because 39 percent of the Yongsan population lives off post.
The unoccupied buildings should be ready by summer 2010, Hall said.
Hall said the renovations also will make room for some of the larger families in the area, as walls in the vacant buildings will be knocked out to make room for three- and four-bedroom apartments.
But he warned residents about some inconveniences that come with the "good news."
Parking will be reduced dramatically when construction fences go up around buildings G, H and J and cut into adjacent parking lots. Parking will be prohibited along the base’s back wall to allow large construction vehicles to pass.
Hall said residents also will have to contend with construction noise from 7 a.m. to 7 p.m. Monday through Saturday.
And residents might face occasional utility outages, though Hall said contractors would provide two week’s notice before shutting off water or power.
School and shuttle bus schedules won’t change during construction, and heavy construction equipment will be prohibited from driving on the base when school buses are dropping off or picking up students.
Hall promised those in attendance that construction issues that become too problematic could be addressed as they came up.
"We don’t want to make it a year and a half of pain," Hall said. "We will not be so aggressive that we’re going to make life miserable here."
The garrison abandoned the three buildings and stopped paying the $4.5 million yearly lease in August 2006 because, they said, the buildings did not meet Army housing standards.
Army officials accepted the corporation’s renovation proposal this past September.
When the renovations are complete, Hall said, the garrison hopes to offer the first apartments to residents of Building I, the only occupied tower on Hannam, and then that tower also will undergo renovations.
While Hannam Village is among the U.S. installations slated to return to the Korean government when U.S. forces move to Pyeongtaek, Hall said the housing corporation expects to have a return on its investment within three years, creating a "win-win situation."
South Korean officials have declined to say how much the renovation project will cost, and garrison officials have said they don’t know.
The next town hall meeting is slated for 6 p.m. on Feb. 3 at the Hannam Village Community Center above the commissary.