The Council of Ministers has ordered the Phnom Penh Municipality to study the possibility of tearing down the capital’s land-mark, state-owned Cambodiana Hotel, Deputy Municipal Governor Pa Socheatavong said Friday.
The cabinet made the order in a recent letter, and told City Hall to study the riverfront hotel’s site with experts from the Ministry of Land Management before making a decision, he said.
Asked whether the hotel will be dismantled to make way for a 20-story building, as reported in the Khmer-language Kampuchea Thmei newspaper’s Friday edition, Pa Socheatavong said it was too early to say. “We can’t answer until the experts make a recommendation,” he said. The Royal Group of companies, headed by Phnom Penh Chamber of Commerce President Kith Meng, has acquired a stake in the hotel, he said.
Ministry of Land Management Secretary of State Nuth Narang, and Prum Sithra, an undersecretary of state at the ministry, said they were unaware of the possibility of the hotel being dismantled.
Kith Meng said by telephone that he was outside the country and could not speak to a reporter. His brother and Royal Group Vice-Chairman Kith Thieng declined to comment on the group’s possible interests in the hotel.
Hotel Cambodiana General Manager Michel Horn also declined comment. “There will be an announcement soon,” he added.
Singapore-based firm Cambodiana Investment took out a 70-year lease on the property from the government in 1991. The construction of the hotel was begun in the 1960s by then-Prince Norodom Sihanouk but by the time the hotel was completed, the prince had been ousted from power.
Architect Helen Grant Ross said the hotel is not an outstanding piece of architecture in itself, but described it as “a significant part of Phnom Penh’s history.”