Japanese construction company Arakawa, having previously developed luxury apartments overlooking the Mekong River, is working on potential plans to resurrect Phnom Penh’s dilapidated White Building complex, officials said on Wednesday.
Since the low-income housing block from the 1960s was condemned by the city’s governor more than two years ago due to safety concerns, little has been made public regarding plans for its demolition and reconstruction.
The current development consultation between the company and the Ministry of Land Management may provide a way forward for hundreds of residents and small business owners, ministry spokesman Seng Lot said on Wednesday.
“We are undertaking a study to look at the feasibility of developing the White Building,” Mr. Lot said. “After we receive permission from the government, we will tell residents about the project.”
He said he was unsure when the assessment of the block along Sothearos Boulevard in Chamkar Mon district would conclude. Any plan would need city approval.
Last month, Mr. Lot said a Japanese company, which he declined to identify at the time, had proposed a temporary relocation site for residents in Toek Thla commune behind the Royal Phnom Penh Hospital.
Ieng Sotheara, managing director of Arakawa, declined to comment on Wednesday on the company’s involvement in the study. Arakawa was established jointly by Japanese, British and Cambodian investors, according to a European Chamber of Commerce member list.
In late 2009, the company was part of a resurgence in real estate development in the capital, breaking ground on the $30 million Bellevue Serviced Apartments that now stand on the Chroy Changva peninsula, offering residents everything from an infinity pool to babysitting services.
Although the White Building has been deemed uninhabitable, city officials have been reluctant to forcibly remove residents who claim they have nowhere else to go.