Phnom Penh developers look across the river

Phnom Penh developers look across the river

AS land along Phnom Penh's main boulevards and in its central district is largely spoken for, investors are turning their eyes towards the city's outskirts.

But economic trends are also cooling some of the exuberance in the property sector, focusing interest on areas with intrinsic value and durable appeal.

Sandwiched between the Bassac and Mekong rivers, and just a hop and a skip from Phnom Penh's city centre, for instance, lies Chruoy Changvar Peninsula.

Unlike investment in some other urban fringe areas that appear to fly against logic, development of the serene peninsula across the water from Phnom Penh's riverside district should weather the global economic storm.

Investors there include such high-profile players as Hun Sen's daughter, Hun Mana; Deputy Prime Minister Nhiek Bun Chhay; Phnom Penh Governor Kep Chuktema and central bank governor Chea Chanto.

For Bonna Realty Group president and CEO Sung Bonna, the country's leading realtor, the appeal of Chruoy Changvar is self-evident. "Everywhere in the world, riverside areas are the best residential spaces. So Chruoy Changvar is an ideal spot because it's between two rivers, with a really nice view of the city," Sung Bonna said.

As evidence of its appeal, he noted that real estate values there have doubled on average since 2007, with land values currently as high as US$1,500 per square metre, a figure that is still only half of what land  goes for in the Boeung Keng Kang area.

"It hasn't caught up to the most expensive parts of the city because of the bridge. If there were a second bridge, it would likely catch up." 

Chruoy Changvar has long been the centre of the capital's Cham community, with increased development raising the possibility of  displacement.

"The government wants to develop the area. That's no problem," said Sith Ybrahim, a Cham and former secretary of state at the Ministry of Cults and Religions, adding that they must be compensated fairly.

The Cham were also likely to make communal decisions, noted Sith Ybrahim. "In Jan Nak village, the entire Cham community moved to Chrouy Men Tvey. They had a discussion together, sold their land and moved to another location."

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