New location for cancelled Shwedagon project

 

The Myanmar Investment Commission has given Marga Landmark approval to build its mixed-use project on a new site, after the president called off the Hong Kong-based developer’s project last year, deeming the initial location too close to Shwedagon Pagoda.

The project will now be built on 17.7 acres at the corner of Kabar Aye Pagoda Road and Kanbe Road in Yankin township, according to a notice published by the Directorate of Investment and Company Administration.

A spokesperson for Marga Landmark said yesterday the company was not ready to comment.

Near Sedona Hotel and HAGL Myanmar Centre, the new location will have a good view of Inya Lake. Authorities have said they are trying to develop this area of Yangon, which is well away from heritage sites in the downtown area.

The debate on protecting Yangon’s heritage has intensified as foreign investors flock to the city to develop high-rise projects. In the absence of zoning rules, civil society groups often use protests to flag up projects they deem inappropriate.

In the case of Dagon City 1 and four other projects slated to be built in the shadow of Shwedagon Pagoda, the companies had secured all necessary approvals.

Yet activists were concerned the developments would impact the historical icon, either through blocking the view or affecting the pagoda’s foundations – a concern which the companies have rebutted.

After almost a year of protests and debate, the president ultimately cancelled the projects, telling developers they would be offered new locations.

At the time, observers said compensation would be crucial to maintaining foreign investor confidence in Myanmar’s nascent property market.

The developers had put considerable time, money and effort into the projects and were following the law, they said.

Stakeholders said yesterday they were happy with the new location. “The new place for Dagon City 1 is fine,” U Toe Aung, an urban planner for the Yangon City Development Committee told The Myanmar Times. “Kabar Aye Pagoda Road in Yankin is fine for big construction [projects]. There won’t be any protests.”

Daw Nyo Nyo Thin, a former MP in Yangon Region parliament and a vocal protester against the initial location, said she had no objection to the new site, as long as the project did not disturb the environment.

“Yankin township is far away from Shwedagon Pagoda, though it is close to Inya Lake where there are many trees,” she said, adding, “I don’t have any objection if the case is settled in accordance with the law.”

Marga Landmark’s Dagon City 1 and Thu Kha Yadanar’s Dagon City 2 are the most prominent of the five cancelled projects.

The others were being developed by Shwe Taung Group and Adventure Myanmar Tours and Incentives. As these are local investments, the new locations do not have to be approved by the MIC.

Dagon City 1 project was originally to be built on 22 acres of former Ministry of Defence-owned land on Kabar Aye Pagoda Road, under build-operate-transfer terms.

The US$300 million project was to include residential, commercial and retail space, developed with consultants including Hong Kong’s Wong Tung & Partners and Australia’s Meinhardt.

The company had already sold a number of residential units before the project was cancelled. A Marga Landmark spokesperson told The Myanmar Times last year that a settlement scheme was being prepared for those who had already bought apartments.

“Existing customers can transfer their reservations and enjoy first choice of units at our new location at a good discount along with attractive bonuses,” she said.

“For those who prefer a refund, we will immediately process that as soon as we receive our compensation from the government and perform a full independent audit of our case.”

 

Source: Myanmar Times

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