In the first of a four-part series on the redevelopment of Phnom Penh Train Station, The Post looks at the exciting retail opportunities available at the soon to open Train Square

Train Square is set to open the next chapter in the history of Phnom Penh’s iconic railway station, returning the building to its place as a pearl of Asia as it approaches its 90th anniversary.

The historic 1930s Art Deco gem in the heart of the capital’s central business district has been artfully transformed, offering some 3,000sqm of top-end food and beverage outlets and office space that caters to the needs of the 21st century.

“Train Square is set to open as an iconic retail plaza, welcoming visitors in grand style and providing a new place for people to meet, dine and relax in beautiful surroundings with high-end cafes, restaurants and shops.

“It is a beautiful building restored so that people of all ages can visit any time to relax with a tea or coffee, enjoy a lunch or dinner and take in a piece of history brought back to life.

“The location, prestige and iconic nature of this project has attracted a range of retailers, and now with restoration work due to complete next month, Train Square is getting ready to relaunch, open its doors again and greet all.

“Despite many units having been leased by tenants eager to be a part of the beautiful heritage building opening, there are some retail spaces available. And and we have just opened leasing on the second floor for offices, with limited space available,” said Simon Griffiths, managing director of The Mall Company, Cambodia’s commercial and retail leasing specialist for shopping complexes.

Phnom Penh Train Station was built in 1932 under the reign of King Sisowath Monivong as the terminus for the line to Battambang to boost trade with neighbouring Thailand. Constructed from reinforced concrete – still a relatively new building material at the time – it was something of an engineering feat to overcome the challenges of Phnom Penh’s geography.

Train Square is to offer some 3,000sqm of top-end F&B outlets and office space. Joe Curtin

And getting the building ready for another 90 years of service to the Cambodian people has proven to be an “extensive” project, Griffiths recalls.

“The overall vision was to restore the train station to its former glory so that it could rightfully take its place at the centre of Phnom Penh’s central business district, among such important buildings as Vattanac Capital, Exchange Square and Raffles Le Royal, as well as the headquarters of many banks.

“The train station’s original design quality, architecture and construction is of a very high standard, but 90 years had not been kind and the building was in need of serious modernisation and reinforcement.

“So simply restoring the building was not enough. The electrical and plumbing systems throughout needed modernising, underground pipes and waste storage had to be installed, and structural reinforcements added internally and externally.

“All this proved to be extensive work. But we wanted to go further and elevate the station. Fixing the building was not the goal – the goal was to elevate the building as an iconic feature of the city all could be proud of. As a result, glass elevators have been added, and the original staircases restored, with landscaping and feature chandeliers added within the main atrium.

“With all restoration work to be completed in April, we now look forward to inviting tenants who wish to join – both office and retail – to come and let us show you all the improvements made over the past two years,” Griffiths said.

The original project’s lead engineer Henri Maux in La Belle Aube: Henri Maux, jeune ingénieur en Indochine, 1927-1937, described the line as part of King Monivong’s “great modernisation campaign to develop the potential wealth of the country”.

Monivong’s grandson Norodom Sihanouk three decades later oversaw the construction of the southern line from Phnom Penh to Sihanoukville and its newly built port.

The railway station has served Cambodia for almost 90 years. Photo supplied

And with Cambodia’s network aiming to open further lines in the future, cementing the capital as the centre of the region’s rail system, the further expansion of the railway network reflects the Kingdom’s continued growth in logistics, infrastructure and transport.

‘A part of history’

While increasing traffic as the station opens new lines will be a massive positive for pioneering partners joining the project, tenants can also expect to attract further footfall with the range of cultural activities on site.

“There will be a combination of urban, contemporary and street art from curators KBach Arts displayed inside and outside the building. There will also be a number of cultural activities including tours on the history of Cambodia’s railways, antiques and ambitious international street art projects set for the platforms and walls leading up to the station.

“Over the past 10 years in Phnom Penh, I have managed or consulted on over one million square metres of commercial real estate in Phnom Penh, but I have only worked on one 1930s Art Deco building.

“The train station is unique – it is one of a kind and such a part of the history of Phnom Penh. Lined by the highest quality offices and five-star hotels in the city, it sits right at the centre of the city with stunning views over a promenade of parks and a Buddhist stupa.

“Combined with the beautiful Art Deco French architecture and all the project has to offer, the careful and sensitive renovation of one of the Kingdom’s most iconic heritage buildings is what makes Train Square so special,” Griffiths said.

For more details please contact Ms Puthik at The Mall Company: [email protected]/(+855) 081 811 515.