March 04, 2016 13:12
Hotel Shilla in central Seoul wants to build an annex that allows guests to experience traditional Korean living. There are already some 20 traditional or hanok-style hotels in the country, but none in the capital.
Shilla expects the annex to be popular despite a hefty price tag because it is close to the old fortress wall of Seoul and exists in a small bubble of attractive pre-modern structures in the urban sprawl.
The Seoul Metropolitan government on Thursday finally approved the plans, which represent the fifth revision since 2012.
The annex will occupy the present site of Shilla's duty-free store next to the hotel. Amended from initial plans to build a huge structure, it will be just three stories high with another three underground and have around 90 rooms.
A new duty-free shop will open in front as well as parking and commercial offices. To atone for pouring yet more concrete into the city, Shilla will build a public park in front of the main gate and a public parking lot next to it. The entire project is to cost W300 billion (US$1=W1,217).
The focus is on traditional design with lots of wood on a village-themed site, a cutting-edge trend in hotel and resort design worldwide, including a traditional pavilion. The project is slated for completion in 2019.
Shilla had been trying to build the project since 2011, when Seoul city authorized lodging facilities in conservation areas. It finally won approval by drastically reducing the number of rooms and revising the design to better accommodate the surrounding area.
Critics had warned that the site is just 30 m away from the old fortress wall, and noted that the Samsung-affiliated company was making no public contribution.
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