Jerome Luciani of architecture and development company LBL International says that the Kingdom should prepare for the time when the gold rush slows
What can we expect to see in terms of development in the coming years?
We’re really focused on industrial projects and the development of tourism… I think billions and billions will be invested in infrastructure in the years to come and it has already started. I think Chinese investment allows Cambodia to have a highway, for example, [and] we will have a new airport and so on… In the years to come what will be a big [focus of the] sector [is] the development of the coast. Also, I bet that more and more we will see a lot of investment targeting low- and mid-income accommodation for residential [developments]. In 2017 [it] was really a high year in terms of commercial activity… So we have been approved for a lot of those types of projects this year, and I think the projects will happen this year.
What are the specific challenges to development in Cambodia?
We have had one of the biggest [development] growths in the world for many, many years, but, of course, one day it will slow down, so that’s a big challenge we have to take into consideration. However, Cambodia is still the land of opportunity for all kinds of investors… Many of the projects are coming from regional developers, international developers and, generally, if they do these projects in Cambodia it is because they can’t do it again in Hong Kong, in Thailand, in Singapore, in Malaysia, so they are coming to Cambodia because it’s the land where you can [still] do projects like that. So the challenge is that someday these opportunities will slow down, but it’s also [something] we can be optimistic [about] because it can also mean that when this slows down it will be a country like Hong Kong or Singapore or Malaysia – we will arrive there.
How do construction materials impact development here?
For construction materials, they’re mainly imported… Some developers think that as we are in Cambodia, the project can be cheaper, but that’s not the case considering construction materials… That’s a big challenge, and also I think it’s a good opportunity for the country to manufacture and to build internally all those materials that we use for all these construction projects.
Which LBL developments are you most proud of?
To give you an example, we have finished a project two years ago. It was the Sun and Moon Hotel, so it was just a hotel development project for a close client we have, and now it’s a real commercial success, this hotel. We are really proud because we designed it. We have also done the branding for this hotel and we won an award last year… the best [hotel] architectural design at the [Cambodia] Property Awards… It’s not just a high-end project that our clients will have, it’s also high-end project management [and a] high-end relationship with the client, so that’s what we are really proud of.
This article was published in Southeast Asia Globe’s Property Special 2018. For full access, subscribe here.