Construction Halts on Phnom Penh’s Gold Tower 42

Construction on the $300-million Phnom Penh skyscraper Gold Tower 42 has halted at the 30th floor, an official from the construction firm in charge of the project said yesterday.

The 360-unit mixed-use luxury tower has been plagued by persistent rumors of imminent shutdowns since construction began in March 2008, but representatives of Yon Woo, the project’s Seoul-based developer, have insisted that the project was moving forward as scheduled.

Kim Kyo-won, Tower 42 Project Manager for Hanil Engineering & Construction, which was building the skyscraper, said yesterday that construction was indefinitely delayed.

“The project has been put on hold,” said Mr Kim.

Declining to elaborate on the reasons behind the stoppage, Mr Kim said he hoped work would resume “as soon as possible” and referred further questions to Yon Woo.

Kim Tae Yeon, the assistant project manager at Yon Woo Cambodia’s Tower 42 who said on Sept 3 that the building was still on track to be finished by late 2011 or early 2012, refused to comment yesterday on the work stoppage.

The construction site at the corner of Sihanouk and Monivong boulevards was quiet yesterday. Only the footfall of guards interrupted the silence inside the tower.

A well-dressed worker walking through the sun-soaked site who would not identify himself said that construction workers had been sent away “because of rain.”

On Sept 2, executives at the South Korean Posco Engineering & Construction company announced that the $300-million Star River project, a 45-story, three-tower residential complex in the capital near the Tonle Bassac river, would be postponed for financial reasons. Posco’s project coordinator Kevin Jeong blamed the stoppage on the state of the Cambodian economy.

According to Sung Bonna, president of Bonna Realty Group, demand for luxury properties has flagged in Cambodia due to the global economic crisis and has yet to recover.

“If [Yon Woo] has the capital to finish Gold Tower then they can. But if they are waiting for buyers’ funds then it will probably have to wait,” said Mr Bonna.

Mr Bonna added that many projects smaller than Gold Tower and Star River had also been delayed but presented less of a problem to their developers.

Yon Woo would have been unlikely to embark on a project it was not sure it would be able to complete, said Tan Hong Kiat, the country head for the property consultancy firm Knight Frank.

“I think that people have been skeptical but that the market is sometimes just skeptical,” Mr Tan said. “I’m sure the developers wouldn’t have worked on the project unless they believed they could fill the tower up.”

  (Additional Reporting by Tim Sturrock)


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