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French colonial homes retain lasting value

French colonial homes retain lasting value

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With fine details and high construction quality, colonial buildings are worth preserving as both cultural heritage and investments

Photo by: Tracey Shelton

The beauty and cultural interest of French colonial homes enhances their value.

WITH higher initial construction quality and unique decoration, French colonial-era buildings in Cambodia retain higher value over time than more modern buildings, say real estate experts and government officials.

Cambodian Economic Association President Chan Sophal said that the value of French colonial homes was higher than modern homes because of their beauty and cultural value.

 "These are very good houses compared to modern ones and would be much more expensive to build today," said Bonna Realty Group president and CEO Sung Bonna.

The values of older French homes, hotels and other structures were not dependent on the size of the building but on location and  decoration, Sung Bonna said.

He said that the Unesco building near the Royal Place, for instance, would be very valuable if it came on the market.

"That location is very good, and the price of land is US$3,000-$4,000 per square metre," he said.

Minh Kosony, secretary of state at the Ministry of Culture and Fine Arts, decried builders who destroy French colonial structures to make way for new construction.

She said that the French-era buildings were an important cultural heritage.

"If they destroyed the French colonial house, it means that they destroyed the Khmer culture," she said.

So Mara, secretary of state at the Ministry of Tourism, also noted that French colonial architectural heritage needed to be preserved because it was part of what made Cambodia attractive to tourists.

Phnom Penh Governor Kep Chuktema agreed that the architectural quality of French-era buildings made them interesting to both Cambodians and foreigners and said that the capital city was stepping up efforts to preserve these buildings as a state cultural heritage.

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