Lotte department store in Busan reopens after settling dispute over landmark project

BUSAN, June 2 (Yonhap) — The city of Busan allowed a branch of Lotte department store to reopen Thursday after the two sides settled a dispute over a delayed landmark construction project.

Lotte’s branch in Gwangbok in the southern port city closed on Wednesday after the metropolitan government failed to extend its business license the day before, citing the company’s reluctance to complete a project to build a commercial and residential building called Lotte Tower.

After further negotiations, the two sides signed an agreement on Thursday under which Lotte will complete construction of the skyscraper by 2025, a year earlier than its last plan.

In exchange, the city extended the license. But it is only effective for four months, whereas such an extension is generally only valid for one or two years.

Lotte Shopping CEO Jung Joon-ho apologized for the delay in the project.

“We will do our best to complete the development of Lotte Tower as the priority task of the group,” he said during the signing ceremony. Busan Mayor Park Hyeong-joon also attended the event.

In 2000, Busan approved the company’s plan to build the Lotte Tower, which would be a 107-story, 428-meter tall skyscraper.

In 2009, the city government also granted a provisional permit to the Gwangbok branch under the project.

But the project made little progress due to feasibility issues, and Lotte changed the design of Lotte Tower in 2019, reducing it to a 56-story, 300-meter structure.

The revised plan was rejected by the city’s landscape review board the following year.

Lotte recently submitted a new design 340 meters tall with a plan to complete construction by 2026, and the committee conditionally approved the plan on May 26.