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Korean Real Estate

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First World – Mixed Use Residential New Songdo Style

The Sharp (The #) First World is one of the first completed residential projects in the New Songdo International Business District. The property was designed by international architecture firm KPF, and Korean firm Kunwon.  The project opened in January of 2009 with a lighting ceremony to celebrate the project and residents began moving in shortly after. The Sharp (The #) First World is a luxury apartment and office-tel mixed use development with ground floor retail services. In total there are: 1,596 Residential Units, 1,058 Office-tel Units and 294 Ground Level Retail spaces. The Sharp (The #) is designed to  house approximately 7,000 of New Songdo’s projected 65,000 residents as well as a health club, a daycare center, and a seniors’ center. The complex is located next to New Song Convention center and near the  Northeast Asia Trade Tower and River Stone Mall, it is also near on of several planned subway stops on the yet to be completed system.

As is common with hotly anticipated properties in Korea all of the 1,596 residential units sold out within the first two days they were listed on the market.  To read more about this phenomenon take a look at our article ‘Real estate lotteries, bidding wars, and tax audits in New Songdo’.

New Songdo has master plan that lays out a number of sustainable principals and The Sharp (The #) First world follows these principals. The overall plan is inspired by the pedestrian cities of Europe and North America and the design utilizes a pedestrian-scaled street grid, engagement with the street through the use of continuous street walls, and plenty of open space.

In order to challenge the perception of the super-block as a single “housing estate” as evidenced by the realization of the Radiant City paradigm in urban areas throughout the peninsula, FWT was conceived instead as being an assemblage of distinct communities. An analysis of Korean social hierarchy (the Ma-Ul, the Dong-Ne, and the Yi-Woot) informed the organization of the FWT into four courtyard communities each of which is subdivided into three neighborhoods of approximately 200 households.

The traditional Korean built environment also influenced the design, wherein circulation through palaces and gardens is characterized by repeated shifts in orientation and displaced axes. At the perimeter, gates and seven-story street walls provide a sense of enclosure, beyond which densely planted interior courtyards are viewed through large scale “urban windows”.

Displacement is also a theme at an architectural scale, where the ashlar patterns of traditional garden walls inspired the exterior wall articulation. The discontinuous lines of these surfaces break down the vertiginous effect of windows more characteristic of high-rise building, and in so doing reduce the apparent scale of the development.

The design for FWT further addresses the profound problem of scale associated with the super block typology by varying building heights in a rhythmic, nonlinear progression. Within the framework of the buildings, scalar elements such as large apertures, arcades, and pavilions assist in translating very large elements down to the scale of the individual. S

Fact Sheet

  • Occupancy: January 2009
  • 1,596 Residential Units, 1,058 Officetel Units and 294 Ground Level Retail
  • All Units Sold Out
  • Buildable Area: 5.7M SF/531,670 SM
  • 12 Buildings from 3 to 64 Floors
  • 4,892 Car Parking Garage
  • Architect: KPF/Kunwom
  • Contractor: POSCO E&C
  • Pursuing LEED for NC Certification

Gale International

Welcome to Alpha Dome City

Welcome to Alpha Dome City ‘알파ㆍ돔 시티(αㆍdom city)’! It is a mixed use commercial and residential project that at first glance looks like one massive building. Alpha Dome City a project with an opening 5 trillion won (4.5 million US/CAD) price tag is under construction in Kyung ki do – sung nam si bun dang gu pankyo dong,  near the intersection of the Pankyo Expressway and the Seoul Outer Ring Highway. The project is by commission of the Pangyo Mutal Fund Administration in partnership with Lotte Engineering and Construction Consortium who will be the project manager for the Alpha Dome. Korean news puts the total number of companies involved in the consortium at 16. The project will have a mixed media centre (read movie theatre) department stores, (no doubt Lotte Department Store will make an appearance) discount stores, a hotel, galleries and other facilities, along with approximately 946 residential units. The project team indicates that the development will take lessons from Germany’s Sony Centre, and Le Defence, France.

The Korean National Housing Corporation will have a number of units in the development, indicating that the project will have a number of low cost rental units and housing for sale pursuant to the Korean National Housing Corporation’s mandate to  provide affordable housing to low-income households and also to stabilize residential property prices through the large-size housing supply.

알파 돔

In korean news a member of the project team explains the significance of the name: Alpha (α) as the first letter of the Greek alphabet ‘to No. 1’, ‘first’, ‘the light of the strong astronomical constellation of stars’,’ The most important part ‘, is central to the vision for the site. S

The Most striking aspect of Alpha Dome City ‘알파ㆍ돔 시티(αㆍdom city)’ is, well the Dome. The project is a number of commercial and residential blocks spread over a couple city blocks, with the dome as a pedestrian accessible linking structure. The dome with plans for cultural exhibition facilities in this ‘sky gallery’. The Dome itself with have multiple cuts through the roof structure to allow light to penetrate into street scape within. Inside the development preference will be given to bicycle and pedestrain traffic as the part of the new naturalism movement in Korea.  Special thanks to Chung Eun Young for research assistance.

Real estate lotteries, bidding wars, and tax audits in New Songdo

The Prau is a mixed-use office-apartment building going up in the New Songdo free economic zone in South Korea. The instant smart city being built by Gale International, Cisco and other partners. Kolon construction is another of the partner firms involved in New Songdo and has built one of the most fiercely speculated on residential towers in the last couple of years. One of the unique things about the Korean real estate market is the lottery. Due to intense population demands and real estate speculation most affordable housing, or price stabilized housing is handed out using a lottery system. Put down your deposit and wait to see if you get lucky.

The Prau attracted a flurry of interest due to its relative low cost compared to other developments in the New Songdo area. Each Pyeong, (3.3m²) is priced at 6.5 million won which is about $6954 which is about 3 million won less then equivalent properties in near by buildings. The smallest units in the development at  55.98m² are expected to sell for about 65 million won or 56,705.742 USD. The units are especially hot because they are eligible for immediate resale because they are not in one of the ‘speculative areas.’ In the ‘speculative areas’ residents are not allowed to resell apartments that have not been occupied. Overall 257,706 people applied for the lottery of the 27 smallest units, (those under 66m²) with a required deposit of 5 million won. S 597,192 people applied in total for the 123 studio apartment/officetels.  As the building is a mixed apartment/officetel the units can be used as either residences or offices.

According to the Korea Times the National Tax Service intends to audit the 123 people who won the lottery for units in the building to hunt down speculative buyers and sellers. The government sent tax officials out to monitor the streets around the construction site and the showroom to monitor back-door sales of property rights.

“We decided to launch meticulous tax audits as the Songdo officetels can encourage speculative investment on the real estate market, which has been stabilized recently’’ S