2040 is a long way off, but they have to get started sometime, don’t they? Well, they have. See those yellow roads going off into the distance? One of them has been paved. It links up with Route 4 just outside of Sihanoukville near the “Welcome to Sihanoukville” sign on the highway. Nothing is being built on the road yet, but I have it on pretty good authority that a Chinese developer has bought/leased a big chunk of land near this crossroads and plans on building a housing estate on it.
I think the fact that they paved the road even though it’s next to useless for through traffic substantiates that rumour. That much construction requires easy access and the road offers access without having to pass through the city.
There is also a direct road from the airport to Otres in the works and someone told me they have already started working on it and plan to bring in the heavy equipment in 2015. That, too, is clearly marked on the Master Plan. It’s the orange road that goes through Otres.
Let’s come back to the present and take a look at Otres Beach as it is. A seemingly odd thing happens as you approach the beach. The paved road takes a left turn down the second road back, but comes to an abrupt end just before the popular beach road. Isn’t that doing things backwards? Not according to the Sihanoukville Master Plan.
The bumpy dirt beach road is slated to become a pedestrian road only. The bungalows on the beach are going to have to go (that’s why they’re made of timber) and even some of the bar/restaurants will be demolished and in fact one that was illegally constructed recently was. The bungalows and hotels between the two roads will stay as long as they conform to building regulations, but their main entrances will be on the paved road.
I took a ride down that road and noticed something interesting. One new bungalow complex is in the process of making an entrance on the paved road. Right now it looks like a service entrance only, but notice how the pool is most visible from here instead of the beach side of the road. Are they thinking ahead?
2040 is still a quarter of a century in the future. At the rate building was going on a few years ago, there wasn’t much chance Sihanoukville would be as developed as the Master Plan envisions. Even at the rate it has been growing since 2012, it is hard to imagine it looking like this:
However, the rate of construction investment increased 210% in Cambodia in the first five months of 2014 and there’s no sign of it slowing down. According to the Global Post article I got this information from, the total investment was 2.77 billion dollars and came from investors in a variety of countries.
Another sign of the times is that real estate prices are rising in Sihanoukville. In the Phnom Penh Post, Sum Manet reports in At the beach, prices on the rise:
Property prices in Sihanoukville are on the rise with premium main road and beach front properties selling for about 10 per cent more than this time last year, says Po Eavkong, managing director of Asia Real Estate Cambodia. Eavkong said properties along backstreets had gone up 5 to 7 per cent.
He goes on to say that one thing holding development back is that “some land owners were demanding unrealistic prices and keeping developable [sic] property locked up”.
So that’s what’s happening at Sihanoukville’s Otres Beach. I don’t want to be a party-pooper, but personally, I hope Sihanoukville stays as it is a little longer. We’re already looking at land outside the city, where prices are still low, but hesitate to sell because there’s a great school near our house and Sihanoukville has all the amenities we need. We’re looking, though, because we are starting to feel crowded out. The land behind Otres is still rural and we go for motorbike rides out there frequently just to get out of the city, breathe the fresh air and look at the greenery. When that’s gone, so will we.