A local developer plans to build the first mall and flats compound in Pursat province, along National Road 5, after identifying the economic potential of the area.
Oknha Phou Puy, director of the Green Trade Company and the head of Cambodian Rice Millers Association, who is planning to invest in this construction project, said the company is now filling up 30 hectares of land to build a mall, a farmer’s supermarket and a compound of flats along National Road 5 in the Soriya Village of Lor Lork Sor district in Pursat city. It is understood the proposed development will begin before Khmer New Year in 2017.
Pursat city is located in the middle of National Road 5, a road considered to be of much importance for the ASEAN Economic Integration trade-route as it connects three major cities – Bangkok, Phnom Penh, and Ho Chi Minh.
According to Puy, the project will be a phased development, with the first phase involving the construction of a two-storey mall and 400 units of flats. While Puy would not disclose the purchase cost of the units, he said they would be an affordable price for people who live in Pursat and in the surrounding areas.
“The next project phase will be conducted after studying the people’s needs and their livelihood in the province,” Puy said.
He continued, “I believe that this project will succeed due to the ability to improve the livelihood of the people as well as the fact the flats are an affordable price.”
Puy is optimistic about the project’s potential and is confident there is demand for such a development that is usually reserved for inner-city neighbourhoods.
Puy said he earmarked Pursat city for the mixed-use development because the living standards of the people in the area is improving, as is the agriculture sector. This, in turn, has increased the area’s social development thus creating a demand for a supermarket, cinema, and restaurants within the mall.
Besides the supermarket, Puy added that he will consider improving essential infrastructure in the province following suggestions from Industry, Mines and Energy Minister Suy Sem, and Pursat Governor Chap Neang.
The infrastructure proposal involves increasing irrigation systems in the province which would directly benefit the agriculture sector.
Commenting on the mall and flats proposal, governor Neang said all relevant Pursat city authorities had unanimously agreed on the development. However, he did not elaborate on specific details regarding a development timeframe and capital cost.
Puy has also not confirmed the investment needed for the project.
“If this project is made to empower people’s livelihood, then it will be a success,” Neang said.
Khom Moniroth, head of real estate consultancy Daily Realty Group, said if the project is carried out, it would attract more locals and passers-by to Pursat province.
However, Po Eavkong, general manager of the Asia Real Estate Company, is not bullish about the project, stressing that the population density in that province is still low, and added that people’s livelihoods in the province is not on par with those in other provinces, such as Battambang.
“The level of the people’s livelihood does not match the need of investment in that sector. It needs more time because Pursat province still has a small number of people and their livelihood is insufficient,” Eavkong said.
Pursat City comprises seven districts and has a population of about 60,000.
Leng Mala, a resident of Anlorng Mean Village, about 4 kilometers away from Pursat City, said the mall investment is unlikely to be successful because many people in that province are already migrating elsewhere due to low incomes.
However, she believes that if shophouses ranging from $30,000 to $40,000 are built as part of the development proposal, the investment will prove beneficial.
“As a matter of fact, there is already a company that is selling shophouses, and it’s doing extremely well,” Mala said.
“If [Puy] builds that type of house within that price range, he will gather a lot of interest.”
Chan Sophal, director at Centre for Policy Studies, has an optimistic outlook on the proposal.
“While as of now, there may not be enough demand for shopping malls or supermarkets in provincial towns, if Cambodia maintains its economic growth at 7 per cent or higher for the next five years, eventually the demand will go up,” he said.
“These [forward-thinking] investors do not mind losing money for these projects for now, as they are probably more concerned with how the future will be.”