Ever since the city transformed Nguyen Hue’s iconic boulevard into a pedestrian walking street, real estate on the downtown promenade has skyrocketed.
Currently, property on District 1’s Nguyen Hue is the most expensive in Vietnam and among the most expensive in Asia, reports Zing. While several companies – Saigon Tourist, Sunwah Group, Tai Nguyen Limited, Saigon Trading Group and the Bank for Investment and Development of Vietnam – have snapped up Nguyen Hue real estate, leading developer Van Thinh Phat Investment Group Corporation (VTP) owns roughly one-third of the street, according to the news source.
In the city’s central business district alone, VTP’s investments include the Saigon Times Square, Union Square, Prince Hotel (formerly Duxton Hotel) and VTP Office Service Center buildings as well as the so-called “golden quadrilateral”, a block bordered by Nguyen Hue, Ngo Duc Ke, Ho Tung Mau and Huynh Thuc Khang Streets.
Zing estimates the latter property comes at a cost of over VND1 billion (US$44,800) per square meter. The recently inked land deal, which drew fierce competition from both local and international developers, means this 1.31-hectare block now belongs to VTP, which plans to transform it into a commercial center complete with 40-story tower.
Though VTP, founded in 1992, originally invested in restaurant and hotel operations, the firm has since become a formidable real estate developer. In addition to its downtown holdings, VTP has also launched several premium projects in adjacent districts, including An Dong Plaza in District 5, and Sherwood Apartments and Lambert Residence in District 3. The firm also recently invested in the US$6 billion complex Mui Den Do in District 7 along with foreign Pavillion Group and Genting Group.
In June, VTP submitted a proposal to city officials for the development of a new public park and underground trade center which would run along the waterfront from Ton Duc Thang Museum to the Ton Duc Thang-Ham Nghi intersection.
Though the company’s website provides a brief history of the firm, little is known about VTP’s founder. Very few people in Saigon had heard of CEO Truong My Lan before the 2013 Vincom A Center deal in which her company bought the complex for nearly VND10 trillion (US$448.2 million) and later changed its name to Union Square.
Even today, Lan’s billionaire status is kept fairly quiet, however the South China Morning Post reports she is married to Hong Kong businessman Eric Chu Nap-Kee, whom she met in Vietnam at age 16. The couple’s daughter, Elizabeth Chu, runs Hong Kong-based ZS Hospitality Group and recently purchased a VND700 billion (US$31.4 million) villa in District 3 with Minerva, a company jointly founded by Chu and her cousin, Truong Hue Van.