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Phnom Penh on the rise

By: Bronwyn Sloan Posted: January-30-2008 in
Bronwyn Sloan

From the blast of air-conditioning as you open the doors and are greeted by the attentive receptionist, it is obvious South Korean-funded development, Gold Tower 42, is marketing itself as a development. Perfectly manicured hostesses help you out of your shoes and into slippers to make the carpeted walk upstairs to view the model of the glory that will be and, perhaps, make a purchase.

Gold Tower 42 (which obviously plans to reach 42-storeys), is the first ever skyscraper due for completion in Cambodia. The development, with a plush showroom on Norodom Boulevard, has sold 40 percent of its units off the plan already, according to Kim Tae Gon, general manager of Yon Woo Cambodia Co Ltd, despite its completion date not scheduled until 2011.

"Mostly we have sold to Cambodians and Cambodian-Chinese, but also Chinese, British, South Korean and other investors," he said as a well-heeled hostess replaced a plate of candy on the desk and a Cambodian at the next desk cheerfully signed off an ANZ check for $500,000.

The cheerful check chap is a ground-floor investor - apartments in the luxury complex on the corner of Monivong and Sihanouk boulevards are priced between $500,000 dollars to $1.6-million dollars. ("Price is based on size and quality," explains Gon)

But Gold Tower will not stay the tallest skyscraper for long if another South Korean company's plans stay on track. A 53-storey development by South Korean construction company GS Engineering and Construction is planned by 2012.

Construction is now Cambodia's third largest industry behind only garments and tourism, and the sector will only go up, according to government spokesman Khieu Kanharith.

"The high price of land makes it sensible to make the most of land investments, and skyscrapers are the perfect solution," he said by telephone.

Some analysts estimate that real estate prices in Cambodia have increased at least 10-fold in as many years as the economy continues to grow at double-digit rates. This month, the largest realtor in the world, CB Richard Ellis Group Inc announced it was opening a Phnom Penh office.

Once known as "The Pearl of Asia" before the war, the Cambodian capital, with its relatively low pollution levels and population compared to cities such as Singapore and Bangkok is looking good on the real estate investment front now it has found stability and economic growth, according to Gon.

"South Korean construction and Phnom Penh real estate is a good marriage," he says. "We are definitely investigating further investments here."


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