Archive for Songdo IBD in the News

Songdo: Korea’s Smart City

Fair article on Songdo International Business District.   All projects comes with some challenges… that said, Songdo tops my list for aspiring to be the City of the Future.

Songdo South Korea


City of the Future

Check it out….


68 Story Songdo NEATT Opens

Pleased to see Songdo’s NEATT ( The North East Asia Trade Tower) open. I recall over the years peeking out from floor after floor as construction moved ever upward.  Last time i was in the Tower it was a chilly February morning hosting BBC Click.


NEATT ( on right)

Songdo in the News–Incheon and Songdo: Sub-National Economic Integration Efforts

As a longtime supporter of the Songdo project, we always have seen the Songdo International District ( the core of the greater Songdo FEZ which NY-based Gale International has developed) as a Hub for East Asia business…neat idea the area could be hub for eventually N-S commerce.

Songdo Peterson Institute

North Korea Blog

Incheon and Songdo: Sub-National Economic Integration Efforts
by Marcus Noland | May 13th, 2014

A few years back I was invited to participate in some activities sponsored by Gangwon province in northeastern South Korea, the traditional boundaries of which were split by the division of the peninsula. Officials were hoping that a reconnection of the east coast rail line would give the province an economic shot in the arm.

On the west side of the peninsula, officials have also been eyeing inter-Korean integration and the economic benefits that it could bring. According to a newspaper story passed along by Tom Murcott of Gale International, the developer of the Songdo “smart city,” back in 2008  local officials pushed for a traffic network expansion plan that would connect Incheon International Airport to Gangwha and Gaeseong Industrial Park as part of the Gangwha development plan. That integration would seem to make sense, especially if the October 2007 North-South summit vision of redeveloping Haeju ever came to pass.

With President Park’s renewed emphasis on unification, Incheon officials are dusting off the old plans. According to the report in the Incheon-based Kiho Ilbo, Incheon City has announced it will push ahead with the construction of an expressway from Yeongjong to Haeju of North Korea, the so-called “West Sea Unification Expressway.” Incheon City estimates KRW2.7 trillion of project costs will have to be spent on the 112km-long expressway.

Presumably the city doesn’t have that kind of cash laying around, and one would think that the national government might have something to say about opening up direct transportation links with the North, so don’t hold your breath.  Nevertheless, it’s a reminder that local officials have their own eyes fixed on North-South possibilities, and if North-South relations calm, Incheon and Songdo would be ideally placed to become the hub of North-South exchange.


The Korea Society: Visionary Songdo IBD and Cisco

The Korea Society looks at Songdo and their collaboration with Cisco in the informative and insightful presentation. I am a long time supporter of Songdo IBD and Gale International, the master developer.

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Songdo IBD and PGA’s President’s Cup

President’s Cup

I attended this year’s President Cup in Dublin, Ohio with my friends at Gale International. They are developers of the Jack Nicklaus Golf Club Korea, which will be hosting the 2015 Cup. We have high expectations for the event in two years.

Don Southerton at 2013 President’s Cup Songdo Booth

The Details

The Jack Nicklaus Golf Club Korea, located in the Songdo International Business District (IBD), Incheon, Korea, has been selected as the host the 2015 President’s Cup.

The Incheon City skyline is visible from Jack Nicklaus Golf Club Korea, site of the 2015 Presidents Cup.

July 31, 2013

AKRON, OHIO – At Firestone Country Club in Akron, Ohio, where Jack Nicklaus is tonight receiving the Ambassador of Golf Award, Nicklaus joined PGA TOUR Commissioner Tim Finchem to announce that Jack Nicklaus Golf Club Korea, located in the Songdo International Business District (IBD), Incheon, Korea, has been selected as the host course and Incheon City as the host city for The Presidents Cup 2015 when the event makes its first trip to Asia. 

Jack Nicklaus Golf Club Korea, which is located 40 miles west of Seoul in the country’s largest economic development zone, celebrated its opening in September 2010 with the Champions Tour’s first official money/official victory event held in Asia. The course hosted the Songdo Championship in 2010 and 2011, and the 2012 Korea Women’s Open on the KLPGA Tour. 

Mayor Song Young-Gil of Incheon City expressed his excitement and was delighted with his city being selected as the host city of The Presidents Cup 2015. “We are extremely pleased and honored to be the first city in Asia to be selected as host of The Presidents Cup,” said Mayor Song. “Along with the upcoming 2014 Asian Games, Incheon City has certainly put itself on the global stage as a choice destination for major international events, and we look forward to welcoming participants, sponsors and dignitaries from around the world to our great city and country.

“Incheon City will work closely with the PGA TOUR, Jack Nicklaus Golf Club Korea and others to make The Presidents Cup 2015 a resounding success.”

Finchem said, “Just over three years ago, we announced The Presidents Cup would be played at Muirfield Village Golf Club in 2013.  Today, we further strengthen Jack Nicklaus’ commitment and connection to The Presidents Cup with the announcement that the course he designed at Jack Nicklaus Golf Club Korea will in 2015 host the event for its first foray into Asia. Like Muirfield Village, Jack Nicklaus Golf Club Korea is Jack’s vision and an impressive venue in its own right. We are thrilled to take The Presidents Cup there, which is not only a milestone in the event’s history, but also a significant step in further elevating the game of golf in Korea.”

Nicklaus said, “We’re very honored and proud that Jack Nicklaus Golf Club Korea has been selected for The Presidents Cup 2015. We have always felt strongly about JNGC Korea as a host venue because of its location in the Songdo International Business District, its proximity to the Incheon International Airport, the quality hotels nearby, and the club’s proximity to a large population area. The facility itself also makes for an ideal location to host The Presidents Cup. We’re very pleased that the PGA TOUR felt the same after evaluating its options throughout Korea.

“Everyone has worked extremely hard to get us to today. I want to extend my congratulations to Mayor Song Young-Gil and the host City of Incheon; the membership and staff at Jack Nicklaus Golf Club Korea, as well as the development team from Gale International, especially Stan Gale. I would also like to recognize Chairman Roy Ryu, who has been instrumental in bringing The Presidents Cup to Korea. His vision and leadership were critical throughout the entire selection process. In the end, we’re delighted that the PGA TOUR selected the Jack Nicklaus Golf Club Korea. We think they will present a great event. This will be a tremendous opportunity to showcase on a world stage the beauty of Korea and the country’s passion for the game of golf. Having been fortunate to be involved in several Presidents Cup matches in the past, I know how uniquely special this event is and how it represents to a global audience all that is great about the game of golf.”

Jack Nicklaus Golf Club Korea features a par-72, 7,413-yard Signature Golf Course designed by the Golden Bear, and offers world-class amenities, including an award-winning, 60,000-square-foot clubhouse. For The Presidents Cup 2015, the course has undergone some minor renovations and the holes rerouted to accommodate hospitality and the match-play format. Songdo IBD is a joint undertaking by Gale International, POSCO E&C, and Incheon City and a model of international collaboration. Songdo IBD is globally recognized as the world’s foremost smart, sustainable city-scale development. In 2012, the Green Climate Fund (GCF) selected a site in Songdo as the home for the GCF Secretariat.  It is believed that many of the sustainable infrastructure and technological innovations being pioneered in Songdo will be applied to GCF-funded projects in developing nations.  

“To build a truly global city, we engaged the world’s leading design, architecture, engineering and technology firms,” said Stan Gale, chairman of Gale International and Jack Nicklaus Golf Club Korea. “Working closely with our partner POSCO E&C, we selected Nicklaus Design to create a sporting venue worthy of hosting professional golf’s most prestigious international events. As a direct result of Jack’s consistent leadership and hands-on oversight, the JNGC Korea was selected as The Presidents Cup 2015 host location. The PGA TOUR’s decision is emblematic of Incheon City’s global appeal and a reinforcement of the importance of the great game of golf in the Republic of Korea and Greater Asia.”

Previous international venues for The Presidents Cup include: The Royal Melbourne Golf Club in Melbourne, Victoria, Australia (1998, 2011); The Links at Fancourt, George, South Africa (2003); and The Royal Montreal Golf Club in Montreal, Quebec, Canada (2007).  Robert Trent Jones Golf Club in Prince William County, Va., hosted The Presidents Cup in 1994, 1996, 2000 and 2005, and TPC Harding Park in San Francisco, Calif., was the host site in 2009.  Muirfield Village Golf Club in Dublin, Ohio, will host The Presidents Cup the first week in October. 

In 2011, K.J. Choi, K.T. Kim and Y.E. Yang competed in The Presidents Cup, marking the first time more than one South Korean qualified for the International Team in event history.




Korea Magazine Shares Songdo’s Vision

The cover story for the August edition of Korea magazine  looks at Songdo and it’s vision for the future.

Thanks go the Robert Koehler and his team… As the story’s writer, I appreciate the opportunity to share my views on Songdo.




BBC World Service Click, Songdo IBD and CISCO Smart Connected

By Don Southerton,  Editor

In February I hosted BBC World Service journalist Gareth Mitchell in Korea.  This is second in Gareth’s well done series on Korea, emerging technology, and Songdo International Business District.  

This episode interviews Wim Elfrink Chief Global Strategist for Cisco. The interview took place in Songdo IBD via Cisco’s TelePresence. Here is the audio link. 

BTW Hard to top Cisco’s TP technology. Below is photo of me working with teachers via TP in Songdo IBD in 2009. I was in Irvine, California, the teachers in Incheon, South Korea 🙂



BBC World Service Click Looks at Korea Tech

By Don Southerton,  Editor

In February I hosted BBC World Service journalist Gareth Mitchell in Korea.  This is first of Gareth’s series on Korea cool tech. LINK

Gareth Mitchell with Gary Donohue: technology integration specialist for the ‘Village’ School at Chadwick International School in Songdo IBD, South Korea

Questions, Comments?




New Urbanism: Smart, Sustainable Growth– Songdo 2013

By Don Southerton, Editor

Since researching and then authoring a book on Songdo International Business District (IBD), I have watched the Incheon project and similar new urban communities face a number of challenges. Beyond huge development costs, the vision for these communities requires not only providing but also sustaining a high quality of living.

With regard to Songdo IBD, the community rises from reclaimed land on the western coast of South Korea. More significantly, the project embraces high standards for design, sustainability and, most importantly, an unparalleled lifestyle. Specifically the developer boldly set out to transform and reshape the model for urban communities.

That said, with regard to Songdo and other new urban projects I have been drawn to a question, “Have high profile new urbanism communities met their early visions and expectations?”

Although like with similar project that were stalled by the global recession, Songdo now is back on its growth plan. Gazing out from Songdo’s North East Trade Tower’s 68th floor observation area on a cold February morning, I could see the city more than 50% complete. When completed in 2017, Songdo IBD will be home to 65, 000 residents with about 27,000 people already residing within the project. Equally encouraging, the halls of Chadwick International School Korea now ring with the sound of children, many of whom are carrying laptops. Enrollment over the next few years is expected to grow from the current 700 students to 1200.


NEATT ( on right)

Looking at Songdo IBD, several areas deserve review…

LEED (Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design) and Sustainability – Today, Songdo IBD boasts 13.7 million square feet of LEED-certified space. Along with continued plans to meet LEEDs standards in new construction, the project’s sustainability features a state of art cogeneration plant for electricity with waste heat collected and used in warm buildings with the city. Somewhat of a surprise, and in conjunction with a robust recycling program, Songdo also has the world’s largest pneumatic waste collection system with garbage from across the city directed into a network of large underground pipes, which carry the waste to central facilities. This eliminates the need for the fleet of garbage trucks seen making morning collections in most cities and results in the reduction in traffic, related noise and vehicular pollution. Visiting the collection center, one quickly appreciates the city-wide complexity in the consolidating process and management of the waste.

Green and Open Space Per the Master Plan, 40% of Songdo IBD has been designated to be open space. Looking down from the NEATT observation floor, and in contrast with the high urban density one finds across much of the greater Seoul region, the strong commitment to providing open and green space is apparent from the 100 acre Central Park to canals to walk and bike pathways.

Smart Cities One final dimension of Songdo IBD meeting its vision is the project’s strategic partnership with and commitment from Cisco to become a leading example of a smart and connected city. For example, along with technology to link and share data across an integrated network, buildings and residents will be able to better, fine tune energy demands and monitor and control apartment lights and temperature. In all, there will be constant IP connectivity across Songdo IBD.

Expectations Overall, Songdo IBD is making good on its promises and pledges. As expected with any project the size and scale of Songdo IBD, I see some adaptation to new trends. One modification from the early vision of the project is a shift from offering traditional commercial office development to university campuses and biotech research centers– a more knowledge-based focus and community. Of course, sustaining the vision over time will require continued support of government, institutions, businesses, and residents. However, I expect that visitors to Songdo (Korean and foreigners) will appreciate the community’s new urbanism focus and envy a life style in which one can live, walk to work and stroll through Central Park.


New Urbanism: Smart Growth?

By Don Southerton, Editor

New Urbanism: Smart, Sustainable Growth — Fantasy Vs. Reality

Guest Post By Don Southerton

As mentioned in a previous Forbes guest article, I live in Belmar, a new urbanism community in Colorado. With today’s global and often virtual workplace, about half my day centers on Korea. Between trips to Seoul and being highly involved in Korea-facing business I’ve long observed Korean trends toward quality of living, green and sustainability. For example, trendy Korean Starbucks asks patrons to separate their trash from hot liquids—not trashing unused coffee with the paper waste—soggy paper is hard to re-cycle.

I also support Korean manufacturers like Hyundai and Kia Motors. I see them striving to produce the next generation of green and sustainable cars: Outside the hybrids, eCars, and Fuel Cell Electric Vehicles (FCEV), the materials now used in the assembly of the vehicles are increasingly eco-friendly along with a bold program for the recycling of obsolete cars and trucks.

On a broader scale, I’ve been involved in new urban communities like South Korea’s Songdo International Business District—envisioned as a “city of the future” and intended to meet strict environmental building standards amid providing world-class amenities.

My days are also impacted by life in Belmar. The vision of Continuum Partners LLC., a Denver-based real estate development company, for Belmar was born from the belief that there is a connection between long-term, sustained property value, high-quality urban design, and the principles of smart-growth. At its core Belmar strives to offer a balance between a Live, Work, and Play lifestyle.

Between my Korea experiences with projects like Songdo IBD and those in America like Belmar, I see new urban communities—looking to link quality of living and sustainability—facing a number of challenges. Beyond huge development costs, the vision for these communities not only centers on providing a high quality of living amid green tech rooftop solar arrays and LEED-certified buildings that pass US energy-efficiency standards, but for the developers and businesses financial considerations matter, too.

With groundbreaking in October 2002 and most of the construction completed by 2008, Belmar developer Continuum CEO Mark Falcone has sought to maintain a balance between promised deliverables to the public and local governing bodies, and fiscal realities. As Falcone notes, “The key factor which allowed us to manage through all the changing dynamics of the market was the zoning and a highly responsive City [Lakewood, Colorado]. Those factors gave us the flexibility to respond to evolving market realities as they emerged without altering the essential character of the place.”

When questioned on how Belmar adapted, the Denver developer further explained: “As the economy eroded we had to shift to less ambitious development phases. We focused on heavily pre-leased developments and sacrificed density to keep things moving. We also sold land directly to users or other builders. A land sale to Target in early 2010 and KB Home in early 2011, for example.”

That said, I’m drawn to a question—Have high profile new urbanism communities like Belmar met their early vision and expectations? Several key areas deserve reviewing. They include:

Green—Plan to reality. Beyond core values of ecological sustainability, Belmar relied partially on a $200 million green bond for funding the development. (Belmar only ended up using only $8 million of the bond allocation.) Still, Belmar had an incentive to ensure its renewable energy program was implemented and green building practices were followed. Two key programs stand out in Belmar—Solar and LEEDs.  According to Belmar officials, the roof top solar farm and sustainability gets the most attention—renewable energy being a popular topic.
That said, the developers are perhaps prouder of their LEED’s initiative. In 2002-2003, with construction underway for one of America’s first LEED Silver Certification buildings, Belmar gained national attention. In particular, Belmar was unique since it was a mixed-use structure. Sitting in a conference room on the second floor of the three-story LEED building, I found the heat/AC vents of interest—their floor location similar to a water drain, but pushing out warm air on a chilly Denver morning.

Over the next few years of new construction, retailer Target exceeded expectations and met Silver LEEDs standards. Along with the Whole Foods building and interior, in all, four of Belmar’s structures are LEEDs certified.

Housing—Plan to reality. Belmar apartments are currently divided into two groups. The first grouping are those more near the core of the project and spread out into about seven buildings. Currently, these units are over 95% occupied. A 300 unit building to the south of the project is approximately 97% occupied. Belmar upscale condominium units are 100% sold.

Commercial Leasing—Plan to reality As of the end of October 2011, Belmar office space is 96.4 % occupied and 100% leased. The key tenant is The Integer Group, one of the world’s largest promotional, retail, and shopper marketing agencies, and a member of Omnicom Group Inc. Their Belmar offices alone employ over 500 people.

Retail—Plan to reality. As of the end of October 2011, Belmar retail space was 91% occupied and 92.3% leased. Key tenants include: Target, Whole Foods, Best Buy, Dick’s Sporting Goods, and Nordstrom Rack, along with a mix of national and local stores, shops, and services. In particular, the Ohio Center for Broadcasting, Denver and Paul Mitchell, the School adds to the community’s diverse appeal.

Services, Amenities and Community events—Plan to reality. Many in the Denver area find Belmar’s restaurants (PF Chang’s, Ted’s, The Rock, Baker Street) trendy, with shopping and parking convenient. The ice skating rink is a seasonal highlight. (I’m fond of the “skating with Santa” holiday promotion on Saturdays leading up to Christmas.) Furthermore, Summer Sundays also see a thriving Farmer’s Market, and a flourishing local art scene. I have also heard there is interest among locals for a community garden. Count me in on the latter.

Overall, Belmar has made good on its promises and pledges. Still, sustaining the vision over time, like building a sustainable community, will require the embrace and support of local residents, merchants, commercial tenants, and consumers. I see the local art scene and plans for the community garden as very encouraging.  Moreover, it seems that visitors to Belmar appreciate the community’s new urbanism focus and in some cases envy a life style where one can live and walk to work.

Meanwhile, I’ll continue to share my impressions of Korea, Songdo, and Belmar—and wait for the day when in America I will not have to dump my excess coffee in with the recyclables or maybe take a spin around the local community in a EV.

Don Southerton is a consultant, marketing strategist, and researcher for top Korean-based corporations with global business, along with major western firms that have ventures in Korea and Asia Pacific.

Southerton frequently comments in the media on topics including the Korean car market, Green technology, and global business.

Belmar Solar Array Fact Sheet

The Belmar Solar Array began operating in late summer 2008.

The Belmar Solar Array consists of approximately 8,370 panels and is 125,000 square feet in area.

The Belmar Solar Array is a 1.75 mega watt system generating approximately 2.3 million kilowatt hours of electrical energy per year.

The Solar Array power lights in the three structured parking garages on which the panels are mounted. (Technically, the power generated by the solar arrays is routed back to the local XCEL Energy grid, and XCEL sells power back to the Belmar project at a reduced rate.)

Source: Belmar