White Building deal offered

Source: Khmer Times

Most White Building residents want to go elsewhere. KT/Chor Sokunthea

Land management, urban planning and construction leaders and members of nearly 500 families living in the iconic White Building will meet again today to find a consensus in its development.
About 90 percent of the residents say they want to leave the building rather than keep an apartment.
Land Management Minister Chea Sophara said on his Facebook page that the meeting would be at the ministry. He urged all residents to participate.
A ministry letter to local authorities says 493 families live in the White Building.
The minister met residents twice last year about the development. The ministry offered two options for the residents. These were to be part of the on-site development or accept compensation if they want to leave.
Citizen representative Sem Savuth said yesterday that they have been waiting for another meeting with the ministry.
He said: “For me, I choose to take on-site development. However, I have observed that 90 percent want the money and to leave.
“I want the ministry to decide. If they want to resolve the problem with money or a house in return, they can do it. We want it resolved completely and transparently.”
The White Building, in Chamkarmon district’s Tonle Bassac commune, was built in 1963 amid a massive housing boom in the capital.
The building underwent a revival after the war and despite stigmas of poverty and crime surrounding it, the housing complex has become home to a vibrant community of Khmer artists and musicians.
The government tried to clear the building in July 2015 because it was dilapidated and there were cracks in the foundations.
Sia Phearum, the executive director of the Housing Rights Task Force, said: “The meeting and discussion to find a common point through dialogue between ministers and citizens before finalizing the development is a good way to make the development acceptable all together.”
According to an announcement on the Land Ministry website, a study on developing the White Building showed that it will cost up to $80 million, including temporary accommodation for its residents.
They plan to make the building 21 floors, with three floors of parking, one floor for stores and five floors for accommodation – which they claim will be 10 percent larger.
Developer Arakawa will own everything from the ninth floor up butit is unclear what they plan to put there.

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