Strong current for development

Steve Finch

FROM the top of Yellow Tower, a new seven-storey office space on the Chroy Changvar Peninsula, the views extend 360 degrees into the surrounding provinces on a clear day. To the east the view of the Tonle Bassac is uninterrupted with only a few buildings in the surrounding area rising above two floors. While significant development has transformed the waterfront property across the river in recent years, changes to the capital’s Russey Keo district have been rather modest, but that is changing.

Of the half dozen satellite districts the government has earmarked for completion by 2020, in many ways this slither of land between the Mekong and Tonle Sap rivers is the most advanced. 

While Camko City on the northern edge of Phnom Penh is years from completion – none of the commercial space is even under construction as yet, according to real-estate firm CB Richard Ellis – and Grand Phnom Penh is looking at a 2014 launch at the earliest, new properties in Chroy Changvar are coming online at an accelerating pace.

VTrust Apartment III was completed at the end of last year, Yellow Tower is scheduled to open in February and meanwhile construction workers at Mekong Tower could be seen finishing the building’s parking area this week. In just over a year another apartment building, the US$30 million Bellevue Apartments, is also due for completion.

“Chruoy Changvar is developing into one of the most exciting districts of … Phnom Penh,” said CBRE Country Manager Daniel Parkes, who is acting as agent for Yellow Tower and other buildings in the capital.

Although still undeveloped in comparison with the opposite bank of the Tonle Sap, the government has targeted this riverside district for major infrastructure development that would make it increasingly attractive for investors, property developers including Bellevue’s Arakawa told the Post this week.

“We do not have any problem with the infrastructure at all,” said a senior executive at the Japanese developer, declining to be named. “All the basic infrastructures are in place.” 

Work continues on a project to widen National Highway 6 that extends into Kandal province from the Japanese Friendship Bridge, but the main improvement in access will be the new bridge across the Tonle Sap River, announced in September.

Ministry of Land Management spokesman Nomm Pheany said on Tuesday that private infrastructure development built around new projects will in turn transform the district.

“The infrastructure in Sangkat Chroy Changva will be better [than the city centre] because … developers are taking … new technology and materials that are modern to develop that area,” she said by email.

Prices on the peninsula are still low by Phnom Penh standards. Bonna Realty is advertising plots of land in the district starting at about $400 per square metre, or roughly five times less than those in sought-after Boeung Keng Kang I. Similarly, Bonna was selling a gated four-bedroom two-storey villa in Chroy Changva for $350,000 this week. Meanwhile, comparable properties in BBK I rarely priced below $500,000 with sellers often asking for $1 million or more.

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