The island that was once lauded to be Phnom Penh’s biggest entertainment and residential complex was a flurry of construction activities when most of its high-end condominium projects broke ground in 2010, but some projects have run out of steam.
While locals still flock to Koh Pich – or Diamond Island – in the late evening for their daily dosage of recreation, dinner, or just to cruise around on their motorbikes and people-watch, creating a vibrant scene across the two-kilometre-long island, hardly the same can be said about it in the day.
These days, the harried tempo at which the high-end residences there were built has taken on a snail’s pace, with certain projects not being able to finish on schedule.
In a nutshell, the government handed over the Koh Pich development baton to local mega-corporation, Overseas Cambodia Investment Corporation (OCIC), an exact decade ago. An agreement of undisclosed funds was signed with the Royal Government of Cambodia for the conglomerate to manage and develop the island.
Fast forward 10 years, and the 100-hectare Koh Pich is now home to pseudo European décor of Greek and Roman statues flanking fountains and holding up gazebos, an amusement park offering standard carnival games and a mini Ferris wheel, a string of seafood restaurants by the river – which contains more mud and unfinished land fill than water – a huge fire station with an arsenal of fire brigade trucks, a convention and exhibition centre, a theatre popular for wedding parties, and a dispersed jumble of high-end condos.
Some call Koh Pich their home, having resided for a few years in the only semi-complete residence in the whole island: Elite Town. However, this gated community development with a golf driving range is still fragmentary. Large, empty plots of land rebut the claims of an Elite Town administration officer: “Everything has been sold out.”
These empty plots of land make up almost half of the whole of Elite Town, with the admin officer, who declined to be named, saying that the land plots are waiting for their purchasers to build houses on them. As the sound of drilling came through, a glance at the back of the compound showed two shop houses being constructed in between already occupied houses, while three horses grazed calmly on the grass of some of the empty land plots.
Elite Town, a $100 million development spearheaded by OCIC, is being undertaken in phases. Completion of the fourth and last phase is slated to finish by this year, but continues to remain obscure and largely unreported, having last received media coverage on the completion of 100 two-storey villas in 2012.
Another OCIC development, the exorbitant $700 million D.I. Riviera condominium project, had an initial date of completion for 2017. However, on the same site visit that Post Property staff had to Koh Pich early last week, a D.I. Riviera salesperson said that while buildings A, B and E – three of its five planned buildings – are for sale now, only building B will be completed next year.
There was also no mention of the development’s mall, between buildings A and B, which created some fanfare when it claimed it would be the largest mall in Phnom Penh once completed and opened to the public at the end of 2015.
Queries for more updates onsite went unanswered. Nevertheless, the same salesperson called a Post Property staff last weekend, saying, “The developer does not wish to speak to, and have never spoken to, the press regarding the current status of the project.”
Nevertheless, OCIC is still making some headway on the island.
Its $60 million investment in the Diamond One condo project, a joint-venture with Chinese developer Xin Tian Jian (Cambodia), is keeping to its planned schedule of delivering a completed residential building by March 2017.
With 90 per cent of its 372 units sold – 70 per cent to the Chinese and Taiwanese, 25 per cent to locals, and 5 per cent to Koreans and Japanese – the construction of Diamond One has finished and now awaits interior fittings, according to Yin Hai Ping, sales manager for the development.
On the same optimistic note, Meridian Holdings’ 31-storey Casa Meridian condo has ended its construction phase, and is currently in the furnishing and decoration phase, according to salesperson Ea You Hao. “We will finish ahead of schedule, and estimate the project to be fully completed in March or April 2017,” Hao said.
While almost 80 per cent of its 414 units have been sold, Hao disclosed that up to 80 per cent of the purchasers – of whom 50 per cent are the local affluent – have bought units for investment purposes.
Sovannaroth Khan, head of valuation at Independent Property Services Cambodia, noted that some initial Casa Meridian buyers are asking to sell or lease their units out as well.
“I notice that D.I. Riviera has likely postponed its construction. The reason behind this is unclear, while the rest are keeping [on with their construction],” said Khan, who acknowledged the high-end condo sector has now gone into oversupply.
As with D.I. Riviera, other condo developments on Koh Pich such as The Élysée, and Diamond Twin Tower remain largely silent, with limited or no access and updates given to reporters.
However, Khan believes that as Diamond Island is one of the prime locations in Phnom Penh that packs great potential for the future, certain developments will likely only postpone construction instead of forthrightly abandoning them.
OCIC did not respond to Post Property’s questions at press time.