The Myth

Is it true that Ben Thanh Market will be demolished to make space for a new shopping mall?

No, this is not true because Ben Thanh Market is one of the most recognizable symbols in Ho Chi Minh City and has been so for the last 50 years and will continue to be so for a long time. This rumor, however, has been circulating for quite some time. An official decision to tear down Ben Thanh Market and replace it with a modern shopping mall in 1970 was the closest it ever came. There was even a design contest held to choose the best design for Ben Thanh 3.0 (Ben Thanh Market 1.0 is where the old Market near Ho Tung Mau stands, and Ben Thanh Market 2.0 is its present location). The winning design was a blueprint created by architect Huynh Kim Mang. This design, however, was never put to application due to the simple reason that it was too expensive for the government coffers. The total cost to construct Huynh Kim Mang’s aesthetically bold and ambitious vision in real life was a then whopping VND2 billion.

In 1985, the market underwent renovation overseen by Professor Hoang Nhu Tan. This renovation was strictly a maintenance job however and the base work as well as overall structure of the market remained unchanged. In 2008, yet another incident gave new life to the rumor that Ben Thanh Market would be replaced by something newer and swankier. This time, it was the blueprint of the future Saigon metro line and a vague request made by a subdivision of the city government to clear out space for the future Ben Thanh – Suoi Tien metro line and Ben Thanh central metro hub that restarted the old rumor. Ben Thanh Market, because of its well-placed location, sits at the central hub of the planned metro system and will see traffic coming in from five out of the six metro lines. Despite the request to ‘make space’ being incredibly vague, common sense would have that empty space for this incredible amount of traffic must be created and that old structures, in this case, the market, will have to make way. When the 1500 merchants who make their fortune from the market voiced their objection, the city government representative made it clear that this was simply a suggestion made by an investor and there was no concrete plan to ever follow through.

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