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Yangon | Dagon City I

14504 Views 36 Replies 5 Participants Last post by  nygnc

Dagon City brings a new concept in mixed-use international urban living to the Yangon Central Business District. Designed to create an intimate sense of community. Dagon City is where both expatriates and Myanmar nationals alike will feel at home where everything is within doorsteps.

Conceived as a harmonious integration of nature and urban living. Dagon City comprises 8-storey residential towers on an elevated sky garden for relaxed low-density living.

A world class 5-star hotel along with a vast array of branded retail shops has also been planned to make Dagon City a new luxury destination in Yangon where you can live, work and play all in one location.

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Plans for massive ‘high-end’ luxury development in Yangon unveiled

Marga Group chairman Mr Stephen Suen (left) and senior executive director and chief development officer Mr Edgar Kwan J.P. (right) address media at the launch of 'Dagon City 1,' a high end complex to be completed in 2019 at U Htaung Bo Circle. Photo: Lwin Maung Maung

Multi-national developer Marga Landmark and its Myanmar-based partner Thu Kha Yadanar unveiled plans for a 22-acre (8.9 hectares) multi-use complex located at U Htaung Bo Circle between Shwedagon Pagoda and the Yangon Zoo at a media briefing on June 23.

The majority shareholder Marga Landmark owns 70 percent of shares and is set to invest USD $300 million (K293.1 billion) in the development named 'Dagon City 1.'

Myanmar-based developer and local partner for the project Thu Kha Yadanar owns the remaining 30 percent of shares.

The development, which begins in September, is expected to be completed by 2019 and will include retail zones, offices, a five-star hotel and luxury apartments.

Thu Kha Yadanar is sole shareholder of 'Dagon City 2,' a 7.5-acre (3 hectares) development in the same plot, which stretches from Shwe Dagon Pagoda Road to Zoological Garden Road.

Dagon City 1 is the flagship project of Marga Landmark, a partnership between international real estate development syndicate Marga Group, Hong Kong-based architectural firm The Wong Tung Group of Companies and Myanmar-based architectural and design firm SPiNE.

Marga Landmark chairman, Mr Stephen Suen said his company is leasing the land from the Myanmar government for a base period of 50 years.

Asked about acquisition of the plot, Mr Suen said the Marga Landmark application for development was in accordance with the foreign investment law, and Myanmar Investment Commission and Yangon City Development Committee regulations.

“This is a country that requires foreign capital investment; the MIC [Myanmar Investment Commission] has very strict rules about this,” Mr Suen told media.

Marga Landmark has promised to allocate two percent of annual profits to YCDC for “social welfare” including the construction of schools, he said.

Asked about the inclusion of low-cost housing in future projects by Marga Landmark, Mr Suen said: “Unfortunately our expertise is in high-end [development].”
Height limits imposed in Dagon City

Plans for a large US$300 million mixed used project near U Htaung Bo Roundabout in Yangon were promoted last week, though government officials say they will keep an eye on its proposed high-rise structures to see if they contravene zoning plans.

The Dagon City 1 project is set to include a five-star hotel, office and retail space and residential buildings, aiming to finish the multi-phased project in five or six years, according to company officials.

The land is leased from the government what branch using a build-operate-transfer system. Developers Marga Landmark, an international syndicate of Hong Kong, Korean and British investors, and local firm Thu Kha Yadanar say they hope to have the first phase of four residential towers finished by the fourth quarter of 2014.

Yangon City Development Committee’s (YCDC) zoning plan sets height limits for many of Yangon’s buildings. The Dagon City 1 project is near Shwedagon Pagoda, where many buildings are limited in height to avoid blocking views of the landmark site.

YCDC director of urban planning U Toe Aung said that a project proposal has not yet been submitted to YCDC, but it sits on land designated to be in the Shwedagon highrise limited zone and in green zone 2 – both areas with various restrictions on building height.

“When they propose their project to YCDC, we will assess whether their plans comply with restrictions on heights,” he said.

Company officials said the firms have received permits from Myanmar Investment Commission (MIC) and also agree to follow YCDC’s rules.

Dagon City 1 aims to include eight-storey residential towers with apartments between 600 and 2000 square feet, as well as several penthouses. It also boasts amenities including a fitness centre, outdoor swimming pool, restaurant and indoor golf.

Developers also highlighted the opportunity to provide jobs for local people.
Dagon City 1 developer discusses temporary pause on construction

The ambitious Dagon City 1 project near U Htaung Bo roundabout is one of five that have been temporarily halted by government notice since January 22.

Experts are re-examining the firm’s project site in Dagon township and four other separately owned developments nearby, following public concerns that they may block views of nearby Shwedagon or affect the foundation of Yangon’s most famous pagoda.

Dagon City 1 – which is being developed by an international group of investors called Marga Landmark –has already received approvals from government bodies including the Myanmar Investment Commission and Yangon City Development Committee.

So far only government-approved site preparation work has taken place at Dagon City 1, before construction-related activities were put on hold by the government, according to company officials.

Marga chair Stephen Suen said the firm received a notice on January 22 from the Myanmar Investment Commission that temporarily paused the project for four weeks, during which the detailed plan is to be re-examined by experts from the Myanmar Engineering Society and the Committee for Quality Control of High-rise Building Projects Construction (CQHP).

On January 23, a team of experts visited to re-examine the site and company plans in detail. Mr Suen said the Dagon City 1 project is below the 190-foot (58-metre) height restriction for the area, which usually works out to about 12 storeys. He added the company is using the highest-quality techniques to build the foundation, meaning the road in front of the project site will not be disturbed – let alone Shwedagon, which is over half a kilometre away.

“It was a very detailed check and after the meeting, according to my development team, they are very confident we will pass the test because everything was heavily backed up [by evidence],” he said during an exclusive interview at the site on February 10.

Dagon City 1 is an ambitious mixed-use project, slated to include residential and office space as well as a retail walking street, with 50 percent of the project to be public access. Its developers Marga Landmark are a group of international investors from South Korea, Britain and Hong Kong-Australia, as well as local firm Thu Kha Yadanar.

Marga publicly announced the Dagon City 1 project last year, and had recently begun site clearing when it was hit by the temporary pause on January 22.

Mr Suen said the government has so far conducted itself admirably, as it has listened to and respected public opinion, while still operating inside the boundaries of the law. “I’m confident we will be fairly treated,” he said. “That’s most important for foreign investors … So far all the government actions are strictly in accordance with the legal requirements and within the foreign investment law. These are the rules of the game that we based it on when we made our investment decisions.”

The pause extends only to construction activities at the Dagon City 1 site, with no suspension of any other project-related activities. Indeed, the site has played host to Myanmar International Fashion Week on February 6 through 8, with a separate event on the 12th.

The assessment period has also not delayed Marga’s plans, as developers must wait for about four weeks anyway to import specialised equipment needed to build the project’s foundations as part of the next step, according to company officials.

Mr Suen, a Hong Kong-Australian who holds several degrees including a doctorate degree in Buddhism from the University of Hong Kong, also runs businesses in different countries. He said through the situation he has learned the importance of social media.

“It’s a new era,” he said. “I don’t even have a Facebook account, but I found out Facebook management is important because some of your competitors will make use of this media to [do] dirty things. That is one thing we have pay attention to.”

Mr Suen also said it is suspicious that criticism of the project’s design and possible impacts on Shwedagon only ramped up as construction neared. The project plans have been with MIC for a year and a half, while a scale model has been visible in the showroom for eight months.

“Why [did] all this criticism suddenly flood in after we are doing a very successful marketing program?” he said.

Marga Landmark intends to more aggressively pursue sources of defamation, or commentators putting out wrong information with the intent of hurting its reputation, Mr Suen said.

So far no customer has asked for a refund, and the firm will approach the issue in accordance with the law, he said.

Four other projects that have been affected by the temporary suspension. Mr Suen said Dagon City 1 has been highlighted out of the five total developments, despite there being others closer to Shwedagon that are also planning buildings near the 190-foot height limit.

Some of the attention may come due to the international background of the Marga Investors. Mr Suen said many foreign investors are on the cusp of deciding whether to invest in Myanmar and watching how its development is treated.

“We are [the] showpiece for foreign investment who have operations in Hong Kong. Bearing in mind Hong Kong is one of the most important fund raising centres,” he said.

“Every fund manager is watching me [to] see how I handle the problem. I feel my shoulders are so heavy, not because of the money we invest, but because if we fail, we are hurting the country. A lot of people [will be] deterred from coming.”
Dagon 2 changes mulled

The Myanmar Engineering Society has twice inspected the Dagon City 2 project, one of the five large projects that were temporarily suspended near Shwedagon Pagoda last month.

The society, an independent body of experts, is operating at the request Myanmar Investment Commission, looking at the effect the five projects will have on Shwedagon as well as other nearby sites following public concern about their impact on the landmarks.

Owners of at least two of the five projects say they have already received required approval from the Myanmar Investment Commission, and the current process is a re-examination.

The Myanmar Investment Commission has not yet officially directed any change to Dagon City 2, said U Thoung Htike Min, chair of Thu Kha Yadanar company. “That’s why we currently haven’t completed any changes.”

Thu Kha Yadanar is the sole owner of Dagon City 2 and a minority partner in the nearby but separate Dagon City 1 project, which is also affected by the pause.

U Thoung Htike Min said it is likely some changes to Dagon City 2 will be requested, particularly in the structures closest to Alan Pya Pagoda. If Myanmar Investment Commission directs some changes to the plan, the company will follow the instructions, he said.

“There will probably be changes but we will follow their directions,” he said. “The Dagon City 2 block may be moved back from Alan Pya Pagoda or the number of floors may be reduced.”

Government officials are awaiting the final report.

Myanmar Investment Commission director U Thant Zin Kyaing said the five projects are still being inspected, so there is no detailed outcome to announce yet.

There may be some changes coming, however.

“Inspection of these projects should be finished this month. After that, there will be an outcome and that outcome will be announced,” he said.

U Thant Zin Kyaing added the projects had already received Myanmar Investment Commission approval, but could not comment on the status of Yangon City Development Committee approval for the five project sites.
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