Almost nine months after receiving government approval for the Kingdom’s first low-cost housing project, WorldBridge Land chairman Sear Rithy’s dogged determination to get the project off the ground hasn’t waned. The affordable housing project in the city of Takhmao gives low-income civil servants and families earning less than $500 a month the opportunity to own their own home. Talking to Post Property, Rithy provided insight as to how the project was progressing and also spoke about the status of WorldBridge and Oxley International Holdings’ luxury condominium developments in Phnom Penh.
What is the status of the affordable housing project?
Our affordable housing project is currently occupied with developing its infrastructure. However, due to constant heavy rain, the progress is moving along very slowly. The construction will at least start at the end of this year, but the completion won’t fall behind schedule. Right now, I just want all the customers who have signed up to purchase a home to be calm and believe that this project will continue forward. There has been a spread of information on Facebook that this project isn’t going to move along, that’s why I want to clarify that this is not true because I will not fail what I set out to do. Only the land filling process has been slow and we’re still waiting for legal procedures set out by the government. Works associated with the government and its policies have been completed, we’re just waiting for the approval by the council of ministers.
How has the government assisted with the public housing development?
I’m really grateful with the government’s response to our proposals. The government will give a hand in establishing required infrastructure for our project, such as installing a clean water system, and electricity, as well as certain tax reliefs for our public housing project – they seriously have helped a lot.
What are the features of the project?
This project sits on a 20 hectares land, has a total unit of 2,400 units, and will be constructed in one stage. What’s important right now is that the government keeps its promise of tax relief and infrastructure installment, or else we would not be able to sell them [the units] at the cheap price.
Looking at the condominium sector, how is The Peak project progressing? Has the project, being developed by Oxley WorldBridge, received the same positive sales reception as The Bridge project?
If we’re only referring to the condos in this unit, we’ve already sold about 64 percent of the total number; however, our supermarket is not yet open for sales. The 5-storey supermarket is a franchise we obtained overseas. The project also contains the 5-star Shangri-La hotel. The Bridge, on the other hand, contains small office spaces. This is different from The Peak, since The Peak has a hotel, and it’s much more luxurious than The Bridge.
What is your view on the current residential market in Phnom Penh?
Discussions about condos are repetitive. However, I will say that before, we didn’t have condos; and now that we do, everyone is going out of their minds thinking that the there’s an oversupply. There are two sets of buyers in Cambodia, those who buy condos, and those who buy houses in boreys Condominium sellers have a wider range of customers because there are buyers from Cambodia and overseas. If we look at the present landscape, there is indeed an increase in condominium construction, but condos take at least two years to complete therefore condo supply hasn’t overridden demand yet.
Cambodia’s national elections are less than a year away. Will next year’s elections have an adverse impact on the real estate market?
I’m not a politician, but I implore all parties to be patient. I hope that under the leadership of our prime minister, the election next year will go forward without any problems. For me, I have absolutely no worries that next year’s election will go very smoothly without any problems at all. Investors know the situation regarding the elections well, only they won’t speak out about it, because competent investors are opportunists. Those who are brave are generally the successful ones.