Government Approves 133-Story Skyscraper

The government has given final approval for a planned $3 billion, 133-story twin-tower skyscraper that developers claim will be completed by 2018, a spokesman for the Ministry of Land Management said on Monday.

Ministry spokesman Cheam Sophal Makara confirmed that the Thai Boon Roong Group had received approval for the project—a mix of a hotel, office, and condominium space—and that the developers were aiming to complete construction in 2018.

Phnom Penh City Hall spokesman Long Dimanche poses with a model of the Thai Boon Roong Twin Trade Center in a photograph posted to his Facebook page.
Phnom Penh City Hall spokesman Long Dimanche poses with a model of the Thai Boon Roong Twin Trade Center in a photograph posted to his Facebook page.

“I have asked officials at the One Window Service at the ministry, and they told me that the project had been signed for approval already, but I don’t know the date of signature,” Mr. Sophal Makara said.

The Thai Boon Roong Twin Trade Center would be built on 5 hectares of prime real estate across from NagaWorld casino and would be among the tallest buildings in the world if completed.

Thai Boon Roong operates the InterContinental hotel in Phnom Penh and is owned by Teng Bunma, a reclusive tycoon with a history of drawing guns during disputes, whose fortune was allegedly made in the drug trade.

The project comes as Phnom Penh’s property market is showing early signs of saturation.

In its most recent report covering the second half of 2015, real estate consultancy Knight Frank says that office, retail and condominium projects have seen rapid growth, with the supply of condos set to increase 641 percent by 2018.

The report, which does not include the Thai Boon Roong center, says the condominium sector is expected to experience “intense downward pressure due to steep competition from 2017 onwards” and predicts that office vacancies will reach 37 percent by 2018.

The country’s tallest building—the 39-story Vattanac Capital building—may offer a glimpse into the twin towers’ fate.

Completed in 2014, the tower only reached an occupancy rate of about 30 percent by mid-2015, the company’s senior leasing manager told The Guardian newspaper in July.

Sung Bonna, chairman of real estate firm Bonna Realty Group, previously estimated that the twin-tower project would take at least three or four years to complete but declined to give an estimate on Monday without seeing detailed construction plans.

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