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Bringing LA to Phnom Penh

Silvertown Metropolitan is just months away from opening, according to the two men who have pooled their talents to bring a new level of service and comfort to Cambodia’s capital

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The long-anticipated Silvertown Metropolitan Serviced Apartments are due to open in September this year, according to the two property managers behind the project.

Veasna Meas, who is of Cambodian heritage, is managing director of Naki Group, which was brought in to manage Silvertown. Meas was joined by Silvertown’s now general manager, Jovany Antonio, six weeks ago.

Born in the United States, Meas says his father first started returning to Cambodia in 1993, and – intrigued – he made his own first visit in 2001. He returned to the country to live and work full-time three years ago, following in the footsteps of his father, who returned to live in Cambodia seven years ago.

Antonio was working in the Los Angeles property services sector – where he had first met Meas – when he received the call.

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“It was the beginning of this year, and Veasna called out of the blue and said he wanted to bring a Western approach to property management at Silvertown and fuse it with local sensibilities,” says Antonio, who adds he jumped at the chance to bring his skills to a country he had never even visited. Silvertown covers a total area of 1,000 square metres, with 15 storeys and 110 serviced apartment units, plus one rooftop, four-bedroom penthouse.

The development will also include a coffee shop and shopping facilities, a swimming pool and a gym.

The units come in studios from 39.8 square metres, two-bedrooms from 85.3 square metres and three-bedrooms from 123-square-metres, along with a single, rooftop, four-bedroom penthouse that is still under construction and is perched above what will be the rooftop coffee shop.

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Located on the corner of Street 400 and Street 63 in BKK1, overall construction and fittings for Silvertown should be completed in August, according to Meas and Antonio. Pre-bookings have already started, and in the meantime staff are being trained to international standards, says Antonio.

“We’ve hired almost all of the approximately 50 staff, and they all come from the hospitality sector, but we needed to have everything in working order before we began the true training,” says Antonio.

“He’s adapted very well from life in LA to living in Cambodia,” says Meas of Antonio. “He’s figuring out how things are done here, and he’s also incorporating elements of the LA approach to property management.”

On recruiting Antonio to be part of the team, Meas says: “I knew that service would be key to the success of Silvertown, and that developments like ours, with international services, are part of putting Cambodia on the map.”

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According to Meas, he returned to Cambodia with the intention of getting involved in the property sector, but he first worked in a marketing and advertising company, where he learned the lay of the land by carrying out market research on the local market. It was an experience that made him feel more positive about the country’s outlook.

“People see Cambodia as a frontier market,” he says. “But so much has changed since I first flew in in 2001 from Bangkok on a night flight, and almost the entire city was in darkness – almost not a single light on.”

According to Meas, foreign investment in Cambodia has not only brought vast material changes – along with ever-increasing numbers of foreigners resident in Phnom Penh and in other parts of the country – it has also brought about cultural changes in Cambodian society.

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“We see a lot more well-to-do Cambodians these days, and their kids no longer want to marry and stay at home with their families – they want to move out and have their own families – so the culture is evolving,” says Meas.

Asked about Silvertown, Meas says he sees a lot more interest in Cambodia in the near- to mid-term, and leased apartments will be attractive to company heads – who travel frequently – along with their families.

“What we have is a fully serviced and furnished apartment complex, with all the comforts of living in BKK1,” says Meas.

WINNING COMBO AT SILVERTOWN METROPOLITAN

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Jovany Atonio and Veasna Meas are the men behind the Silvertown Metropolitan. This luxury serviced apartment block in BKK1 has stunning interiors and exterior to match

PHOTOGRAPHS BY CHRIS TAYLOR

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