Shorten Buildings or We Will, City Hall Tells Two Developers

The Phnom Penh municipal government will today issue announcements to two property developers ordering them to partially demolish buildings near the Royal Palace in order to reduce their height to comply with the original planning agreements, an official said.

The two buildings—one owned by Vattanac Properties on riverside’s Sisowath Quay and the other a privately owned apartment block on an alley off Street 19 behind the Royal University of Fine Arts—are in violation of restrictions imposed by the authorities to limit the height of buildings in the vicinity of the Royal Palace, municipal spokesman Long Dimanche said Sunday.

“The municipal governor [Pa Socheatvong] will deliver the an­nouncement to the owners of the buildings, ordering them to re­move the [extra floors] by themselves. We will give them one month to do this, but if they do not implement the order, we will demolish them ourselves,” he said.

Sin Kim Heng, the owner of the apartment block on Street 19 that is near completion, expressed dismay Sunday that he will be forced by the government to demolish part of the building—news of which he has still only heard in the local media.

“I feel like I have died since I received the information that my building faces demolition because I got loans of more than $3 million to pay for its construction and need to make money from the apartments to pay back the loans,” he said.

The property developer also said that the logistics of removing the top floors of a building that was already near completion were baffling.

“It is simply not possible for me to remove three or four floors because each floor is 300 tons of concrete, so if they gave me a year instead of a month I still could not do it,” he said.

Mr. Kim Heng freely admitted that he exceeded the approved 24.5-meter height of his building by 10 meters, but said he specifically did so after Prime Minister Hun Sen announced that he had gotten rid of longstanding height restrictions around the palace when last year he extolled developers to construct higher buildings in the area.

“Samdech Hun Sen encouraged investors to construct the highest building and said the government would give letters of admiration [for doing so], but I have built only 12 floors so I don’t understand why they want to demolish my apartment,” he said.

“I will resist the demolition through the courts to find justice, even though my head has been cut off and dropped to the floor.”

The owner of Vattanac Properties, Chhun Leang, on Sunday declined to comment on the building on Sisowath Quay, where construction was ordered to stop by City Hall on October 1.

“I cannot give comment at this time because I have not yet received the announcement from the Phnom Penh Municipality,” she said.

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