Satellites and the Center

By Michael Landerer

The case about Phu My Hung and their decision to build Crescent Mall got me thinking about the effects of such a complex on the greater Ho Chi Min City metropolitan area. Indeed, the building of a confined luxury area 4 kms south of the city reminded me in particular of one city that I have been to recently where such centers have negatively impacted overall development. The city of Johannesburg has various sub-cities built around luxury retail, safety, and the promise of removal from the dirtiness and in the case of Johannesburg, danger of living and working in the historic city center.

In Johannesburg, over the last several decades there has been a diaspora from the central business district outwards towards Northern suburbs that are gated, self-contained, and often in large complexes dominated by malls. The most notably of these areas is Sandton. Sandton, a suburb, 20 minutes north of the city center has 125,000 residents including most of the wealthier residents of Johannesburg. About 2/3s of its residents are white or Indian, far different demographics than the rest of the country. The neighborhood itself is largely interconnected indoors with the center lying in the Sandton City Mall. An enormous complex housing high end and more moderate retail stores, dozens of restaurants, both luxury hotels and apartments, and progressively more and more offices. Sandton is widely known as “Africa’s Richest Square Mile”. Continue reading