Developers are using Tonle Bassac as a canvas to showcase some of the most ambitious commercial and residential projects in the country.
With its central location and prime river frontage, Tonle Bassac is the fastest developing tract of real estate in Phnom Penh with many of the capital’s biggest commercial and residential projects, leading some property experts to draw comparisons to Singapore’s Marina Bay.
Chrek Soknim, CEO of Century 21 Mekong, said Tonle Bassac is currently the premier zone for high-end real estate development in Phnom Penh on account of its large-scale commercial projects and growing popularity as a residential area for wealthy expats. He points to big-ticket projects such as Aeon Mall, Casa Meridien, The Bridge, The Peak and DI Riviera. The commune has also become a thriving hub of nightlife, with some of the city’s hottest bars, restaurants and nightclubs, as well as two container night markets.
“When it comes to the property market, it’s very hard to find an empty plot [in Tonle Bassac,” said Soknim. “Even if one comes available it will almost certainly be a small plot.”
Located in Chamkarmorn district, Tonle Bassac covers 3 square kilometres bounded by Monivong and Norodom Boulevard in the west and the Tonle Bassac river in the east, and with Sihanouk Boulevard marking its northern boundary. It also includes Koh Pich (Diamond Island), a 100-hectare area of reclaimed land that is one of the capital’s most ambitious real estate developments.
Sear Chailin, CEO of CL Realty, said the market for real estate in Tonle Bassac is extremely narrow, noting that it had become increasingly difficult to find properties for sale in the commune while asking prices have skyrocketed. He said real estate along the main roads can fetch up to $6,000 per square metre, while land on the smaller roads averages $2,000 per square metre.
Chailin attributed Tonle Bassac’s popularity and rapid growth to a number of factors, including its prime location along the river. He said the commune benefits from well-developed infrastructure and that there are no height restrictions on projects, unlike buildings erected near the Royal Palace or Independence Monument.
“Tonle Bassac has enormous potential and will continue to flourish and grow,” he said. “This area has attracted the attention of both the local and international investors.”
A recent study by VTrust Appraisal found that more than 1,300 new residential units have been built in Tonle Bassac during the last 15 years. Hoem Seiha, director of research at VTrust, said most of this new development has come in the form of towering apartments and condominiums.
“The high demand for residential units in Tonle Bassac is because the area attracts prominent businessmen and the growing number of foreigners coming to the country,” he explained.
The commune has also become one of the capital’s top retail destinations, with the 68,000-square-metre Aeon Mall bringing nearly 200 retailers under one roof and drawing large crowds on weekends and holidays.
Vichet, a longtime resident of Tonle Bassac, said the mall has been a magnet for commercial and residential development since it opened in 2014. He said before the neighbourhood around his home was quiet and there were very few places to shop nearby. Now the streets are crowded and rents have shot up.