New investment will be allowed in Yangon’s commercial areas but demolition of historic colonial-era buildings will be forbidden according to the Yangon Heritage Trust.
With Myanmar opening up, foreign investors have been eyeing Myanmar’s hotels and tourism industry and they are particularly interested in the downtown area, where many colonial buildings are located says Yangon Heritage Trust Chairman Thant Myint U.
“In the downtown area, many buildings between Chinatown and the Office of the Ministers (formerly the Secretariat) are included in the heritage list. I think there are around 300 to 400 buildings. Government buildings are also included in this list. All of these are heritages that need to be protected,” said Thant Myint U.
While high-rise buildings are forbidden around the city’s famous Shwedagon Pagoda, new building heights have been specified for high-rise buildings near the Sule Pagoda and its environs.
“We are not saying new investment will not be allowed in these areas. Investment will be allowed, but the demolition of old buildings will not be allowed. If new buildings were to be constructed in these areas, there will be restrictions on building heights and rules enforcing [the entrepreneurs] to reconstruct the old buildings without constructing modern buildings,” he added.
The Yangon Heritage Trust was started to protect and promote Yangon’s urban heritage, advising the government and developers on heritage issues, and undertaking preservation projects, studies, conferences and training.
“Historic buildings need to be protected. They cannot be destroyed. Each building is different. For example the price of the building will drop if it cannot be demolished and rebuilt. Both foreign and local investors are interested old buildings for restaurant and hotel businesses. For example, [a building worth] US$1 million is suitable for them, but nobody will do business if it cost US$10 million. If there is a drop in prices, more investment would come,” said Thant Myint U.
As Myanmar has opens up to foreign investment and tourism, investors still face many difficulties in obtaining land. They also face obstacles with high property prices and prohibitions against foreign ownership of the land.
Source: ELEVEN Media