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Officials from the Ministry of Land Management, Urban Planning and Construction collect data on the iconic White Building in late November, ahead of the structure’s planned demolition.
Officials from the Ministry of Land Management, Urban Planning and Construction collect data on the iconic White Building in late November, ahead of the structure’s planned demolition. Moeun Nhean

White Building surveyed

Land Management Minister Chea Sophara led a veritable battalion of ministry officials in a survey of Phnom Penh’s iconic White Building on Saturday morning in preparation for a proposed development project on the site.

Japanese development firm Arakawa has been tapped to execute the project, which would see the complex torn down and replaced with a 21-storey tower, five floors of which would be reserved for existing residents, with the remainder given over to parking, business units and high-end apartments.

Ministry spokesman Seng Lot declined to comment yesterday, but Minister Sophara took to Facebook on Saturday to thank residents for their cooperation during the survey, which was purportedly conducted by a contingent numbering in the hundreds.

Residents said yesterday that officials had taken room measurements, proof of identity, information on family sizes and whether residents would rather sell their apartments now – forfeiting their right to return – or wait out the development process, which is estimated to last three to four years, in temporary housing.

Community representative Ngem Sovan said she believed the majority of residents will opt for cash in their hands now.

“They came to measure rooms and they asked residents about the choice,” Sovan said. “Most residents need to sell their house but we do not know officially yet, as the ministry officials have not yet shown the results of the survey.”

Resident Neang Tha said that her family wanted to sell their home rather than wait.

“I know when the building has been developed, our house will be worth more,” Tha said. “But we are old, so we need money to buy another place.”

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