No White Bldg consensus

Source: Phnom Penh Post

A street view of the White Building from Sothearos Boulevard. Many residents of the building opted to lower their demands for compensation as redevelopment plans for the site move forward. Eliah Lillis

Most residents at the capital’s White Buildingopted on Friday to lower their demands for compensation from more than $2,000 per square metre to around $1,800 per square metre as the dilapidated structure’s redevelopment looms.

The structure will be torn down and rebuilt by Japanese firm Arakawa for $70 million, with almost all residents opting to sell their apartments in return for compensation rather than accept temporary resettlement and apartments in the new structure.

While the residents had been seeking $2,000 to $2,300 per square metre, Land Management Minister Chea Sophara earlier this month offered $1,260 per square metre, saying he could increase the offer by at most another $50.

Dy Sophannarymany, a representative for the families, said the residents could not reach a consensus on Friday, and another meeting will be held this Friday to narrow the gap.“Most families decided to put forward the price of $1,800 per square metre, while some families still want $2,000,” she said.

Despite the lack of agreement, she said the village chiefs representing the building would put forth the $1,800 figure to the ministry.

The chiefs – Hun Sarath and Ngem Sovan – had urged the residents earlier this month to vote for the ruling Cambodian People’s Party in the upcoming elections, appearing to link opposition success at the polls to a rockier compensation process, drawing criticism from housing rights advocates.

Village chief Sarath yesterday said a majority of residents had picked the $1,800 figure, but that those wanting more would still be able to make their case before the minister at the next meeting.

Ministry spokesman Seang Lot said that the next meeting was yet to be scheduled.

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