New development on outskirts of Phnom Penh is part of a trend towards luxury gated communities, but benefits could be outweighed by low demand
As soon as we put a road in, people have opportunities to schools and markets.
A planned US$11 million development of 40 luxury villas on the outskirts of Phnom Penh is part of a trend to build exclusive suburban properties, but a property expert has questioned the affordability of these developments.
Bruce Haulley, an internationally recognised property consultant, said demand is not yet there for exclusive developments like the 15,397-square-metre L'Artisan Takhmao Villa Development 15 kilometres from the capital, as most Cambodians cannot afford the high price tag.
"It would be easy to sell this to investors," he said. "The total demand in the market is not there and will not be there for a few years."
A groundbreaking ceremony was held for the L'Artisan site, in Tuol Krasang Village in Kandal province's Sa Ang District, on June 26.
Charles Villar, the sales and marketing manager for Technology Innovation Construction Co Ltd (TIC), which is partnering with fellow South-Korean company Hi Sun Group on the project, said the development promised safety and exclusivity for homeowners.
The L'Artisan villas, which come in three types, would sell for between $238,000 and $344,000, and the complex would include a swimming pool, park, and badminton and tennis courts, Villar said.
Safe behind fences
Security will be reminiscent of the gated communities common to South America and South Africa, where safety is a concern for many wealthy homeowners.
The 24-hour security system will include stationary and roving guards, lighting, gates and security cameras, Villar said. "It will be the only place in Phnom Penh you can leave your car unlocked," he said.
Haulley said developments like L'Artisan could stimulate local economic growth, but that proper city planning is required for them to bring prosperity in the long-term. "The development in general is a good thing, and it creates jobs and opportunities," he said. "But it could be a lot better with [better] planning."
Haulley referred to the multiplying effect, whereby residents' expenditure on local services, such as tuk-tuks, nannies and gardeners, could bring greater economic benefits to the wider community.
Improving roads in the area could also assist the community by providing better transport access for the surrounding rural villages and raising living standards.
"As soon as we put a road in, people have opportunities to schools and markets," he said. "The middle class of Cambodia has an unrecognisable and very powerful effect."
However, Haulley was concerned about the dense housing plan and lack of grass and common areas. "You couldn't build this in America that dense," he said. "They would want to see a common area, a place kids could hang out."
Developers would also need to ensure the villas had proper infrastructure, such as sewage systems, electricity and a reliable water supply. Residents would also need schools, medical centers and shops in the area to eliminate the need to travel long distances to buy their groceries and drop their children at school, he added.
Haulley warned that developments of this nature in Cambodia are often left unfinished, with developers pulling out before finishing the infrastructure such as roads and sewage systems.
Villar agreed that many clients are hesitant about investing in property developments due to fears the project will not be finished, but his company wants to build a reliable reputation.
The group had already completed two residential developments in Phnom Penh, De Castle and De Castle Diamond, and were undertaking five other projects in Phnom Penh, including two on the outskirts and three in the city, he said.
"The main thing here is we at TIC and Hi Sun Group can develop the projects, as proven in our De Castle Condominium projects, where we delivered the units to our clients on time," he said.