New construction alters prime area’s ambiance, views

The character of my Boeung Keng Kang I neighborhood has undergone a remarkable transformation in the three years ago this month that I moved to Phnom Penh.

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In this photo from my roof, every high building looking east was built in the last two or three years, probably less. The grey one in the foreground was just completed. The crane in the background (right) atop an unseen tall building with a dramatic elliptical shape is some months from completion.

As I have written in the past, one reason is the explosion of fast-food restaurants in my neighborhood, which is popular with expats.  The other reason is the breakneck speed of new construction, which is obliterating pleasant mid-century villas and the shade of trees that are recklessly cut down on every block.

Perhaps I could argue against the change, though that would be folly.  Instead, what I can rant about is Continue reading

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Housing for contractors defines minimalist approach

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Home away from home consists of makeshift lodging that changes as work progresses inside a construction site.

This is not the first time that I have published a post about the way construction workers live in Phnom Penh.

They arrive here from the provinces unable to find work or at least unable to find work that will support them and their families.  They don’t make much money in construction either — it varies from as little as $150 a month for laborers to a little more for skilled workers.

However, Continue reading

Investment in construction surges against all odds

Source: Phnom Penh Post

Source: Phnom Penh Post

The biggest disincentive for investing in land and new construction in Phnom Penh ought to be, in my view, how much of it is taking place. I have written several times in this space about the swelling bubble that I believe I am witnessing.

The bubble notwithstanding, other reasons would seem to militate against considering a building project in Cambodia, and I’ll get to those factors in a minute.

It is my belief that the dimensions of the growing bubble are clear: Construction and real estate investments achieved 13.75 per cent more growth in the third quarter over the same time last year. The government puts the combined worth at $1.752 billion, an increase in value of $1.54 billion over the previous year.

That recently persistent growth somehow has occurred despite Continue reading

Because of construction, there goes my neighborhood

This villa, a block from my apartment, exemplifies what is being lost in my neighborhood.

This villa, a block from my apartment, exemplifies what is being lost in my neighborhood.

Demolition, renovation and new construction in my neighborhood of Boeung Keng Kang 1 (BKK1) is transforming an area that many expats favor into one that is becoming hard to recognize.

This former villa, which had become a restaurant, is across the street from the house in the top photo.

This former villa, which had become a restaurant, is across the street from the house in the top photo.  (Warning: Numerous images below.)

What is happening here at a dizzying pace merely reflects a situation in which property development in Phnom Penh has soared and, along with it, prices.

Investors in residential buildings in prime neighborhoods such as mine drove land prices up in the last half of 2014 alone by Continue reading

For construction workers, home is where the building is

Construction house 2

Families with children live communally in the shelter at the rear as the foundation is prepared, then they move up into the building when construction progresses.

Most construction workers make their way to Phnom Penh from the provinces, where work for them either doesn’t exist or centers on shrinking farmland and inadequate compensation.

They are distinguished by at least two characteristics: skin browned by the sun from all their outdoor work, branding them as lower class, and by painfully thin, if muscled, bodies.

Their makeshift homes here in the capital are where the work is.  They inhabit crude, rude, jerry-rigged shelters that are moved and modified as work proceeds on each space they occupy until foundations are completed over weeks and months.

Then, Continue reading

Construction din around our rental is driving me crazy

View from our living room of the construction hell below.

View from our living room of the construction hell below.

As I draft this post, I am being assaulted by the demolition sounds on the floor above our apartment and by the extraordinary amount of construction in the surrounding blocks.

We live in the desirable neighborhood of Bueng Keng Kang 1, where many expats prefer to live and dine, though there are more expensive parts of Phnom Penh that also are popular.  Even with rents rocketing up, the amount of new construction here astonishes me.

I count Continue reading

Weekly Roundup: ‘Insane’ market, rising prices, pronounced seasonality, surging sales, wasted electricity, 65,000-acre Quebec spread. . . more!

Next Weekly Roundup April 5

Bidding environment now ‘absolutely insane’

Contract activity soars above prior years, thereby confirming both item above and my Wednesday post

Prices soar 11 percent from January 2012

Prior to usual seasonal increase, February rents in Manhattan Continue reading