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Serious investment for Sihanoukville

Sihanoukville is becoming more than just a place to soak up the sun on a slow weekend; it’s attracting the interest of serious investors looking to cash-in on a growing middle class in the coastal city.

Trade and tourism are the city’s biggest revenue generators and with growing numbers of tourists and business people who come to invest in Sihanoukville, especially from China and the rest of Asia, property developers are looking for new opportunities to capture these growing markets.

One of the upcoming properties set to make an impression on Sihanoukville is D’Seaview, a 735-unit condominium to be located near Sokha Beach. The project is backed by Singaporean agribusiness company HLH Group Ltd under their newly formed Camhomes branch.

Through private subsidies, the company is marketing units as low as $33,000 for Cambodian citizens – but this subsidised investment opportunity is running out at the end of December 2015. Construction on the project is expected to begin later this year, with a completion date of 2018.

New families, young professionals and other prospective buyers will have the chance to secure one of the beautifully appointed units on offer at D’Seaview from as little as $675 per square metre.

D’Seaview will boast state-of-the-art facilities including a swimming pool, a fitness centre and sauna, function rooms and a children’s playground, all catering to a modern family lifestyle and all with a view over the ocean.

Real estate experts say major condominium projects such as D’Seaview will bring international standards to the city and draw more sophisticated investors.

Clement Dupont, a property market watcher and investor based in Sihanoukville, said D’Seaview will give the city a new image, one of luxury and liveability rather than just an affordable holiday destination.

“This will make people realise that Sihanoukville is a worthwhile place to invest money and attract homebuyers who are looking to live and work in a comfortable, classy environment, as the city’s economy grows from year to year.”

“It’ll definitely be interesting to see how the property market pans out once D’Seaview is complete,” he added.

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In the first eight months of the year, Sihanoukville airport handled a total of 65,698 passengers, with total arrivals at 35,882, up 149 per cent and 140 per cent year-on-year, respectively. Lucky Air recently launched direct flights from Kunming to Sihanoukville, becoming the first Chinese carrier to offer year-round regular scheduled service to Sihanoukville.

“Many Chinese have come here to invest and live and work,” said Y Thearin, a Sihanouk Provincial Hall representative.

“Their investment in the city has become important to the way Sihanoukville is moving forward,” he added.

The Chinese influence is certainly becoming noticeable as Chinese-backed casinos and hotels multiply rapidly. One of the largest properties to open recently is the 135-room White Sand Palace, which will also feature a casino set to be open next month, in Occheuteal.

The casino industry has doubled since last year to 15 casinos, with an additional five applications pending approval. Spurring this growth is the potential of online gambling which is being offered from the majority of Sihanoukville casinos, says the spokesperson Ministry of Economy and Finance, Ros Phirun.

Paralleling Sihanoukville’s growth is its property market, with land prices going up fast especially in areas where infrastructure is being improved, says Ruslan Gronov, manager of Sihanoukvilla Real Estate and Consulting.

“The new road that is being upgraded from Sokha to Independence beach is resulting in more land available for sale, while prices are also going up around Otres beach where the road joining National Road 4 and the airport are going up.”

Gronov says the rental market for small residential properties has not changed much amid the city’s growth but rental prices for commercial properties and full buildings have gone up considerably since November last year as the hospitality industry thrives and Chinese business people living in the city push up demand.

Gronov said the lowest price for a one-bedroom apartment with a kitchen is around $250 per month, located in the downtown area away from the beach. For a similar property near the beach the price is around $100 more.

“If you rent commercial and full building, the prices have changed a lot but for residential and small houses it’s the same.”

“It is a good time to invest here. Some areas are still growing and the price is growing fast.”

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Gronov added that the cheapest land prices are around $200 per square meter for land not close the beach, while some of the highest prices are in Otres and the Golden Lion, the city’s most prominent landmark just a short walk away from Occheuteal Beach where land can go for about $1,000 per square metre.

Sihanoukville has maintained a crucial position in the country’s trade and manufacturing sectors and is set to capitalize on this as the government looks to construct a 190-kilometre-long, 25-metre-wide expressway linking Phnom Penh and Sihanoukville on National Road 4. This project is said to begin next year and finish in 2020.

Sihanoukville is home to the country’s largest port and one of the largest special economic zones, but set to create competition is the development of the Stung Hav Port.

LCH Investment Group acquired the more than one thousand hectare Stung Hav site in 2005 and began in 2007 constructing the site’s small port about 4 km from the entrance. The smaller port opened in July 2012 and handles general cargo but not containers.

However as of January this year, American and Singaporean investors pledged investment that will result in construction of the port starting in January 2016.

This will take approximately two years to build and once complete, hopes to attract the business of around 75 factories in the Sihanoukville Special Economic Zone who currently use the Sihanoukville port for shipping.

Management says the first step will be to build the International port next year and then the economic zone, and hopes to offer more competitive prices to the main Sihanoukville Port and SEZ, which has around 75 mainly Chinese-owned factories who currently use the Sihanoukville port for shipping.

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