Party to bless departing tenants

Source: Khmer Times

A street party, two tonnes of noodles and a Buddhist blessing set the scene as residents said goodbye to the White Building.

Residents of almost 300 units in Phnom Penh’s White Building have moved out to make way for Japanese developers, while government officials yesterday threw a party to celebrate their departure.

The party involved a Buddhist ceremony with 44 monks, two tonnes of Khmer noodles and free drinks.

According to the Land Ministry’s official Facebook page, residents of 284 units have now left and received payments from the investment firm Arakawa. Others have agreed a sale price but will not leave until next month.

There are a total of 493 units in the 1960s building, which was part of the country’s first experiment in social housing. 

Phum Mouy village chief Hun Sarat, who is also a White Building resident, said the Buddhist ceremony was intended to help protect people until they can find a new home.

She said: “We dedicated the religious ceremony to the Neak Ta spirit that has cared for this area since 1979 and prayed for happiness in the future. We are happy with what the Land Minister has done for us.”

One resident on the White Building’s ground floor said she and about 20 other families have still not agreed to sell.

She urged the ministry and investors to pay more for their units, so they can find another property nearby.

“The price they have offered [$1,400 per square metre] is fine for the residents upstairs but for the ground floor residents, the rooms are small, so we are getting much less. We would like to ask the minister to increase the price a little bit for us,” she said.

Land Ministry spokesman Seng Lot said there would be no increase since it was already above the market rate.

He said: “This is the best opportunity that people are going to get.”

The White Building, in Chamkarmon’s Tonle Bassac commune, was built in 1963 amid a massive housing boom in the capital.

Arakawa has been given government permission to develop the site in a project that will cost $70-$80 million.

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