Urbanisation is becoming somewhat of an overused catchphrase in Phnom Penh’s property circle, but for Urban Living Solutions, community is at the heart of this modern way of living.
Phnom Penh-based Urban Living Solutions is managed by Cambodian entrepreneur Kean Kim Leang who has made a name for himself working with hotels like Hotel Cara, while also overseeing up-and-coming eateries like Genki Sushi restaurant and KaiFun restaurant.
American-educated Leang is now trying his hand at residential property, inspired by what he says is Phnom Penh’s need for liveable communities following a deterioration in traditional community and village structures in the wake of Cambodia’s increasing urbanisation.
Talking to Post Property about the company’s housing development Urban Hub late last week at the project’s soft launch, held at KaiFun, Leang said 40 to 50 percent of the entire 7.6-hectare area designated for the development will be allocated to open space.
“We wanted to create more green space and a walkable community,” he said.
“If you don’t have a walkable community you do not encourage a sense of community. This is the living component [of the Urban Hub project].”
The first phase of the five-phase development, which is expected to start construction this April before the Khmer New Year, will comprise 12 storeys of 600 units, each measuring approximately 50 square metres, for a starting cost of US$35,000.
Labelled as an affordable development, the focus is selling to buyers who intend to be owner-occupiers, as opposed to foreign investors managing the property from afar.
“Our target audience will be people 25 to 40 years old, Khmer or expat, who live here and who actually want to make Cambodia home,” Leang said, adding that the development would suit middle-income professionals.
“It’s all about people first.”
While a lot of Phnom Penh’s more reasonably priced developments and satellite projects are springing up 15 to 20 kilometres from the city centre, Urban Hub is situated just 750 metres from the Monivong Bridge on National Road 2.
Leang said what truly sets Urban Hub apart from the many other property projects in Phnom Penh is the associated factory at Urban Hub. Urban Living Solutions will partner up with several groups to re-purpose an abandoned factory building into a 1 square kilometre space designed to support remote work, emerging companies and creative arts.
As Leang puts it, he sees the space as a place which can support Cambodia’s next big business ideas while also pushing the boundaries of creative art.
“Initially, for this space, I was thinking of creating an IT co-working hub,” Leang said.
“But you have to also bring the creative people, the art. This is a destination for everyone ... it’s a really cool, artsy technology hub.”
The factory, which will be included in the project’s first development phase, will encourage local and foreign companies to set up shop, and Leang said the factory could even house a university.
“We have a lot of people interested in coming in,” Leang said of the factory aspect.
“We won’t be developing it all by ourselves, we will be working with partners.”
Urban Living Solutions has teamed up with Harper Architecture for the project’s interior design and architecture while the construction contract will soon be put out for tender. Leang anticipates the first phase of development will take about 18 months to complete at a capital cost of $25 million.