No Demolition Yet as Buildings’ Deadline Nears

There was little sign Wednesday that two new buildings near the Royal Palace in Phnom Penh, which have been ordered to reduce their height, were any closer to demolition Wednesday, despite the approach of a one-month deadline from City Hall.

Phnom Penh municipal officials said last month that the two buildings were constructed above the height restrictions outlined in their planning contracts. Notices were issued to the two property owners on October 21, making the deadline for demolition at the latest on November 21.

The notices instructed the owners to shorten their buildings or the municipality would do so itself.

City Hall spokesman Long Dimanche declined Wednesday to say whether the demolition order would be carried out if the owners do not willingly do so.

“This is a decision by the upper level,” he said.

The two buildings are within a block of the Royal Palace compound.

One, owned by Vattanac Properties, is on Sisowath Quay, and the other is a privately owned multistory building in an alley off Street 19 behind the Royal University of Fine Arts.

The Vattanac building was permitted to build 14 meters in height, but has already surpassed 20 meters, and the other building, which was to be a hotel, was granted a 24.5 meters limit, but is now more than 34.5 meters.

Sin Kim Heng, the owner of the building off Street 19, said Wednesday that he had not received any notice from City Hall ordering him to demolish the upper part of his building, though he has partially suspended construction.

“We suspended construction for nearly a month, but now we’re just decorating the inside,” he said.

At the site Wednesday afternoon, the sound of power tools could be heard and about a dozen workers were moving inside and outside the building.

At the Vattanac building, where construction has been suspended since October 1 by order of Phnom Penh governor Pa Socheatvong, a green mesh net covered the entire vacant building. There were no signs of workers or demolition of the offending floors.

Contacted Wednesday, Vattanac Properties owner Chhun Leang declined to comment when asked if she received the municipality’s demolition notice.

“I have no answer for you,” she said.

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