Sky Land, a joint venture between local Jet’s Group and India-based STAR5 Development Pvt. Ltd., has announced on Monday that it will invest $90 million in the construction of an affordable apartment complex and other types of residential housing in Vihear Sour commune of Khsach Kandal district in Kandal province.
Oknha Srey Chanthorn, CEO of Sky Land and chairman of Jet’s Group said, “We expect to invest $30 million into our affordable apartment project, and $60 million into the upscale house project.”
Chanthorn stated that Sky Land Condo, the first of three planned apartment buildings, is tailored to market demands, according to previous market research as they are considered “affordable” at $700 per square metre for one-bedroom apartments. Financing options of $200 to$300 per month would allow buyers of reduced financial means to purchase their own home.
C. Kiran Kumar Reddy, CEO of STAR5 Development, highlighted the importance of affordability.
“This project is for people of all classes. Even poor people can afford it as they can afford a studio apartment while the middle-class can get a one or two-bedroom apartment. The rich can afford a house,” he said.
Okhna Chanthorn’s interest in the housing needs of the poor might come as a surprise for people who formerly knew him as the vice-chairman of 7NG Group, owned by his father, Srey Sothea. The company gained questionable fame for the rough eviction – which happened at 2am – of around 800 families living in the Dey Krahorm community in central Phnom Penh in 2009.
Once the area was cleared of people, the makeshift houses were demolished to supposedly make way for new residential developments.
Until today, the large patch of land behind the landmark White Building remains void of anything, much less any residential development, and it has often been criticised that the land is being held for speculative reasons. Meanwhile, some families are still fighting in court for compensation.
Te Chamnan, a lawyer whose plaintiffs are former Dey Krahorm residents, said on the phone with Post Property yesterday, “All five families of my plaintiffs are preparing to face 7NG in the supreme court on June 30.”
He continued, “The company filed a lawsuit to my plaintiffs at the supreme court after the circuit court told 7NG to give my plaintiffs houses as compensation. But the company was unhappy with the verdict, so they kept on pushing the case.”
Chamnan explained that initially, he took cases from 10 families in Dey Krahorm, but after resolving the conflict with the City Hall by paying money to the residents as compensation, and with the case being pushed to the circuit court, there are currently only five families left.
“I don’t know when or how this conflict will resolve,” he added.
Former 7NG vice-chairman Srey Chanthorn left 7NG to start affordable housing and other developments under his own company Jet’s Group – a company totally unaffiliated with 7NG.
According to Chanthorn’s personal assistant Sambo, who spoke with Post Property on the phone yesterday, Chanthorn’s decision to start his own company was a deliberate move.
“He decided he wanted to do things differently from 7NG,” Sambo said, adding, “he is a good guy who likes to work with young people and help the poor.”
Sambo said Chanthorn is aware of 7NG’s remaining conflicts with members of the Dey Krahorm community. He pointed out that Chanthorn is not currently associated with 7NG and is continuing to focus on his own developments in Vihear Sour.
Sambo also stated that part of the profits generated through the developments in Vihear Sour would go into a charity dubbed “157” that is headed by the prime minister’s eldest son, Hun Manet.
The charity is organised on a provincial level and takes care of elderly people and traffic accident victims. Chanthorn is in charge of the charity in Kandal Province, Sambo said.
According to Sambo, Vihear Sour residents have a positive attitude towards Chanthorn, after first having reservations, because the development of the area has created jobs and housing opportunities.