Logo of Phnom Penh Post newspaper Phnom Penh Post - Colossal skyscraper project still up in the air

Colossal skyscraper project still up in the air

A sales representative for the TBR Twin Tower World Trade Centre looks at a model of the project on display at its showroom in Phnom Penh.
A sales representative for the TBR Twin Tower World Trade Centre looks at a model of the project on display at its showroom in Phnom Penh. Hin Pisei

Colossal skyscraper project still up in the air

The site and showroom for Thai Boon Roong Group’s 133-storey twin tower complex remain quiet, but the project’s chief architect insists construction will begin soon.

Thai Boon Roong Group’s audacious plan to construct one of the world’s tallest skyscrapers on Phnom Penh’s riverfront is moving forward, according to its chief architect, despite the conspicuous absence of heavy equipment on the construction site and the coma-like state of the project’s sales showroom.

Plans for TBR Twin Tower World Trade Centre, a multi-billion dollar 133-storey twin tower set to rise on 5 hectares formerly occupied by Dreamland amusement park in the capital’s Daun Penh district, have been treated with scepticism since the project was first announced nearly three years ago.

Content image - Phnom Penh Post

However, Tous Saphoeun, chief architect at Thai Boon Roong Group, said this week that the repeatedly delayed project is on track, and Cambodian, American and Chinese architects were finalising the master plan for the twin tower skyscraper and its four adjacent commercial towers.

“The construction plan for this international-grade commercial skyscraper has not changed nor faced any problems,” he said assuredly. “The Thai Boon Roong Group’s project will deliver pride and fame to Cambodia in the international arena.”

The project, a joint venture between Thai Boon Roong Group and Chinese contractor Macau-owned Sun Kian Ip Group, was first announced in July 2015 as a 111-storey skyscraper expected to top out at over 500 metres. Construction was set to begin in 2016 and take three years to complete.

Despite lingering concerns over the commercial viability of the mammoth mixed-use complex, the developer has doubled down on its scale to keep it on track as the tallest building in Southeast Asia – at least until 2021 when the 615-metre-high Rama IX Super Tower in Bangkok is scheduled to be completed.

Content image - Phnom Penh Post
Vehicles pass the fenced off site of the TBR Twin World Trade Centre. Hin Pisei

In December 2016, a joint venture of China’s Wuchang Shipbuilding Industry Group and Sino Great Wall Holdings signed a $2.7 billion construction contract to build the TBR Twin Tower World Trade Centre, now envisioned as a 560-metre, 133-storey twin tower.

Saphoeun said the gross building area of the project will cover 1.47 million square metres, with the two towers reaching a maximum height of 561.7 metres. The twin towers will include a five-star hotel with 557 rooms and 448 luxury condominium units, while the four surrounding buildings will comprise prime office space, a shopping mall and international-grade restaurants and entertainment facilities. Three floors of underground parking will be built with capacity for 3,800 cars and 3,000 motorbikes.

“Not every country is able to build this kind of huge project,” said Saphoeun. “Sometimes, they have the money to build it, but even then it is not certain they will.”

Saphoeun insisted Thai Boon Roong Group already had the capital in place to ensure the project’s success, adding that about $3 billion would be invested in the construction and another $3 billion would be set aside to ensure the project runs smoothly.

He said the company was preparing to break ground on the foundation and has hired a local contractor to build a diaphragm wall. The 1-metre-thick reinforced concrete wall will extend 30 metres below the surface, encasing the basement floors and preventing movement of the surrounding soil.

Content image - Phnom Penh Post
The former site of Dreamland after the amusement park was demolished in 2016. Pha Lina

Saphoeun did not give a date for construction to commence, only saying the company “would choose the right time” to begin.

He also dismissed reports that Cambodia’s Royal Group will build a 600-metre commercial tower on the site of the Cambodiana Hotel, less than 100 hundred metres north of the planned TBR Twin Tower World Trade Centre. He said Royal Group chairman, prominent tycoon Kith Meng, did not have the deep pockets needed to realise a project of that magnitude.

Kim Heang, president of the Cambodian Valuers and Estate Agents Association (CVEA), said if plans for the TBR Twin Tower World Trade Centre are realised it would bolster the confidence of investors in Cambodia’s construction sector and increase the country’s pride and prestige.

“I have never thought that Phnom Penh would ever have this kind of skyscraper, or develop this fast,” he said. “I am really amazed by the rapid pace of development here.”

Ann Sothida, CEO of property firm CBRE Cambodia, was cautiously optimistic about the project and said that while the riverfront location occupied prime real estate, the success of the sales campaign would depend on the design and price of the units.

“If the developer has enough capital to finish the project, I think it will be very good,” she said. “However, sales for such a huge project will take a long time.”

Content image - Phnom Penh Post
A model cross section of one of the twin towers. Hin Pisei

Thai Boon Roong Group opened a spacious showroom opposite the Chinese Embassy in early 2016 to showcase the twin-tower project. When visited yesterday, however, the lone salesperson at the empty showroom confirmed that none of the commercial or residential units had been booked.

“Until now, presales and sales have not yet begun,” the representative said.

Chrek Soknim, CEO of real estate firm Century 21 Mekong, said it was highly unusual that the project’s showroom has been open for nearly two years yet it has not even begun presales.

MOST VIEWED

  • Cambodia rejects UN rights claim

    Cambodia's Permanent Mission to the UN Office in Geneva on Friday hit back at David Kaye, the UN special rapporteur on the Promotion and Protection of the Right to Freedom of Opinion and Expression after he raised concerns over the repression of free speech and

  • Ex-party leader, gov’t critic named as secretary of state

    A former political party leader known for being critical of the government has been appointed secretary of state at the Ministry of Rural Development, a royal decree dated July 9 said. Sourn Serey Ratha, the former president of the Khmer Power Party (KPP), told The Post

  • Residence cards set for over 80,000 immigrants

    The Ministry of Interior plans to grant residence cards to more than 80,000 immigrants to better keep track of them. The ministry announced the plan on July 10, following the results of an immigration census. “An inter-ministerial committee and many operational working groups have been set up

  • Fifteen Cambodians from Saudi get Covid-19

    The Ministry of Health on Sunday confirmed 15 more imported cases of Covid. The 15 men ‒ all Cambodian aged 21 to 33 ‒ arrived from Saudi Arabia on Friday via a connecting flight in Malaysia. They were travelling with 79 other passengers, three of them women. The ministry said 80 of the

  • Ministry requests school opening

    The Ministry of Education, Youth and Sport on Thursday said it would request a decision from Prime Minister Hun Sen to allow a small number of schools to reopen next month. Ministry spokesman Ros Soveacha said if the request is granted, higher-standard schools will reopen

  • Kingdom eyes India FTA, China deal set for August

    Cambodia is studying the possibility of establishing a bilateral free trade agreement (FTA) with India to open a new market with the second-largest regional economy. This comes as an FTA with China is scheduled to be signed next month while similar negotiations with South Korea

  • Judge lands in court after crashing into alleged thief

    Sen Sok district police on Thursday sent a Koh Kong Provincial Court judge to the Phnom Penh Municipal Court on manslaughter charges after he crashed his car into a woman riding a motorbike on Wednesday, killing her. District police chief Hour Meng Vang told The

  • Vietnamese workers in Koh Kong questioned

    The General Department of Immigration (GDI) is questioning 49 Vietnamese nationals who were working illegally in Koh Kong province to build a case and send them back to Vietnam, its Department of Investigation and Procedure director Kem Sarin said on Thursday. GDI forces and provincial authorities

  • Preah Vihear court drops charges against villagers

    The Preah Vihear Provincial Court has dropped all charges against eight ethnic Kuoy villagers who were in a land dispute with the Hengfu Group Sugar Industry Co Ltd since 2014. Wednesday’s decision was made by the judge who tried the case on June 10. The eight

  • Gov’t to boost Siem Reap tourism

    The Ministry of Tourism released the results of an inter-ministerial committee meeting concerning Siem Reap province’s Tourism Development Master Plan for 2020-2035 on Wednesday, revealing the government’s plan to improve the overall tourist landscape there. The meeting was attended by Minister of Tourism