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Logo of Phnom Penh Post newspaper Phnom Penh Post - Cambodian cities of the future – they're just around the corner

Cambodian cities of the future – they're just around the corner

Satellite City Approved Projects

Camko City

Developer: World City Company, of South Korea
Projected cost: $2 billion
Area: 119 hectares in the Boeung Pong Peay Development Zone, Russei Keo district, north of Phnom Penh
Completion: 2018
Grand Phnom Penh International City
Developer: Cambodia’s YLP Group and Ciputra Group of Indonesia
Projected cost: $600 million
Area: 260 hectares in Kmounh commune, Russei Keo district, northwest of Phnom Penh
Completion: 2018

Koh Pich or Diamond Island City
Developer: Oversea Corporation Investment of Cambodia
Projected cost: $300 million
Area: covers 100 hectares along the Tonle Bassac River in Chamkarmon district
Completion: 2016 at the earliest

Boeung Kak Lake Development
Developer: Shukaku Inc.
Projected cost: $1.5 billion
Area:133 hectares, Daun Penh district and Toul Kork district (Boeung Kak Lake)
Completion: Unknown

Sunway City
Developer: Sunway City Bhd.
Projected cost: $2 billion
Area: 387 hectares in Chroy Changva commune, east of Phnom Penh
Completion: Unknown

BY 2020 the face of Phnom Penh could be dramatically changed with five massive multi-billion-dollar self-contained satellite cities rising from the outer urban landscape.

All under construction, the sprawling development projects will include residential and commercial areas as well as industrial parks, schools, hospitals and full public services, which Cambodian public officials see as an answer to overcrowding and traffic congestion and a means to increase commercial development beyond downtown areas.

“So far all the satellite city projects are still under construction and everything is going smoothly as planned. We don’t see any of the cities faced with any problems,” said Lao Tip Seiha, director of the construction department of the Ministry of Land Management, Urban Planning and Construction.

He said that despite there having been a world economic crisis he hoped that all the satellite city projects would come on line by 2020 and by that time would be fully in use.

Lao Tip Seiha said that it was very important that Cambodian government decided to set up satellite cities in Phnom Penh, firstly because it would coordinate people movement into the city an secondly it would reduce the poverty of people and traffic congestion.

“It is right that the government decided set up new urban areas like this as it will give Cambodian people a better way of living in the future,” he said.

He said developing a satellite city was not going to take just two or three years to complete, and there needed to be a lot of meetings to review each step of the development plans.

“We [the ministry] will go down to inspect their progressing project developments in order to keep them working on schedule. We always go down to construction sites and we’re planning to inspect all sites in Cambodia in order to strengthen relationships and persuade the owners of the buildings to be optimistic and confident about the sale or rent of their project,” he said.

However, initial progress on the projects has been slow, causing both developers and city officials to make reassuring noises that the Kingdom’s first urban mega projects were on track for completion despite facing some obstacles.

Critics of the satellite cities – which until a few years ago were unimaginable in this low-slung capital that traded on its quiet colonial charm – say city planners are rushing prematurely into first-world development projects that threaten the very soul of Phnom Penh.

Ching Chhom Mony, Dean of Architecture at the Royal University of Fine Arts, said that by the government allowing the development of satellite cities or skyscrapers – such as Camko City – close to the capital it would cause serious traffic issues and a more polluted environment, as well as a more crowded city.

He said that while he felt it was very good to have satellite cities developers should study in more detail the master plan and infrastructure or it would cause these problems.

David Simmaster, chairman of CBRE Indochina, said that he seriously hoped that by 2020 Phnom Penh would not reflect the development patterns of Bangkok or Ho Chi Minh City.

“Phnom Penh is an attractive city which was originally planned in the 1960s,” he said.

“The city’s soil characteristics and low-lying altitude resemble Bangkok. However, with good infrastructure, we prefer to see developments spread to suburban areas, in a structured and planned manner.”

He said that the Cambodian property market had not been directly affected by the global crisis and values were far cheaper than neighboring countries. Purchasers would come with growth in the local economy and prosperity.

“We believe 2010 will be a significantly better year than 2009,” he said. “We see long-term potential for the residential market in Phnom Penh, but it is important that developers are cautious and will need to study market demand and affordability and scale their developments accordingly.

“Bringing on a project five years before demand will be economically challenging for developers,” he said.

He believed there was potential for satellite city projects in Phnom Penh but it was a question of time rather than whether the capital would expand.

Mega projects
The satellite cities that will change the face of Phnom Penh … the five mega projects.

Camko City
Among the first of the new urban centres to be completed will be the $2-billion Camko City project, approved in 2005 and being built by South Korea’s World City Company on a 119-hectare site in the Boeung Pong Peay Development Zone in the Russei Keo district north of Phnom Penh.

“We are working to complete our first phase development,” said Kheng Ser, of the team management of the World City Company.

“There were 164 units of town houses and 18 villas completed in early 2008. Recently, two high rise buildings have been completed and another six more buildings are expected to be ready by early October. We are planning to finish the first phase development by early next year with the completion of seven high rise buildings.

“About 80 percent of the 1,009 units in the first phase of construction have been sold.”
He said that up until now, more than 100 families were staying in the town house and villa area, most of them Cambodian.

“As we have observed, the real estate sector in Cambodia has been better since early 2010. We have seen many more transactions compared to 2009 and think the recession is going to end sooner rather than later,” he said.

As the property co-ownership law had just been enacted and its supportive legal framework had not been in the process, its impact had so far been limited, he said.

“After the official visit to Singapore by the Cambodian leaders, we have seen many foreigners such as the Singaporeans, Chinese and some Europeans visiting our site, some of whom have even purchased or leased the properties here,” he said.

Kheng Ser said that the Camko project, like other projects, was also affected by the real estate downturn but “no matter how hard it was” the project would continuously be moved forward.

Grand Phnom Penh International City
Grand Phnom Penh International City is a joint venture between the Cambodian YLP Group Co Ltd and Indonesia’s Ciputra Group. The $600-million project is being planned on a 260- hectare site in Russei Keo district, northwest of Phnom Penh.

Including a 70-hectare golf course and driving range, Grand Phnom Penh International City would be the most extensive of the planned satellite cities, according to the project’s sales manager, Teng Rithy.

The development would be fully self-contained, with residential areas, schools, a hospital and business, shopping and recreational areas.

The project is to include up to 4,000 residential units, on lots of 140-600 square meters, with prices ranging from $98,000 to $600,000.

He said at least 300 villas in the first phase had already been sold to luxury-oriented buyers, and 80 shops sites had also been sold. Initially planned for completion by 2018, the city would be developed over a period of 8-10 years depending on market demand.

“We have already sold 300 villas and 80 shophouses for the first phase,” Teng Rithy said.

The company has also completed the first nine holes of the 18-hole international golf course, opening them on September 18 this year and hopes to complete the other nine holes in February 2011.

Koh Pich or Diamond Island City
Other satellite cities in the pipeline include Koh Pich City, approved in 2006. Financed by Cambodia’s Canadia Bank to the tune of $300 million, Koh Pich City will be located on 100 hectares along the Tonle Bassac River in Chamkarmon district.

Touch Samnang, project manager and architect of the Overseas Corporation Investment of Cambodia’s Diamond Island development project, said that his company was developing 168 apartments and villas for the first phase on Phnom Penh’s Koh Pich.

To date 40 percent of construction has been completed and 50 percent sold. The company has also completed a Diamond night market with 108 stores rented, two wedding centres, and an exhibition centre.

He said the company was preparing for construction and had already designed an architectural plan for the skyscraper.

“We decided to build it to 555 metres. We are now studying the land in more detail and then we will start construction on it,” he said.

Boeung Kak Lake Development
The $1.5 billion total cost project lies on 133 hectares in the Daun Penh district and Toul Kork district (Boeung Kak Lake) and it has long been unclear whether Shukaku Inc, the obscure local developer in charge of the commercial and housing project, has been backed by foreign investors.

Additional Chinese news reports described the project as Yunnan’s “largest foreign investment”, putting the total cost of the project at around $1.5 billion. One said $680 million would be spent on the first construction phase, to run from 2007 to 2010, with the project to be completed in 2013.

The development at Boeung Kak – known in Chinese as wanguhu, or “10,000 Valley Lake” – has prompted continued controversy, with rights groups estimating that more than 4,000 families will be forced to make way for the project.

In August 2008, Shukaku began filling the lake with sand, a process that has reclaimed large tracts of the lake’s surface, forcing some residents to move away from the site.

When completed, the planned satellite cities would cover a combined area of 1,000 hectares, about 2.4 percent of the city’s 375 square kilometers.

Sunway City
Still on the drawing boards is the Malaysian-invested Sunway City, approved in 2005 but suspended in development limbo as the project waits on site clearance and the resettlement of villagers.

The $2-billion project, situated on a 387-hectare site along National Road 6A in Chroy Changva commune, Russei Keo district, currently has no timeframe for completion, with compensation needed for “a very long list of families” claimed a senior former staffer on the project who asked not to be named.

“So far, nothing’s been developed,” he said. “We are waiting until the government deals with the problem of squatters first. We can’t do anything if too many squatters are still on the land.”



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