High-Rise Condos put Forgotten Neighbourhood Back on the Map
Surge in construction of skyscraper homes and public transit lines near Bangkok’s century-old Klong San district is a preview of what the future holds for the city.
Charoen Nakhon Road in Klong San district hasn’t been a hot topic until recently. Only some Bangkok residents living near the Chao Phraya River and the old town know where it is.
But the district is gaining notoriety for its high-end property development projects.
Among those projects is Iconsiam — the 50 billion baht upscale shopping complex that will be partially opened this Friday.
Such a lack of popularity is ironic. The Klong San neighbourhood is already over a century old.
The district hosted a major celebration of its 103rd anniversary three years ago, and is now 107 years old.
The district was once home to many civil servants, a busy market, and warehouses. It was first registered as Bang Lamphu Lang (Lower Bang Lamphu) then changed to Buppha Ram district before being named Klong San.
Klong San’s name is believed to come from Phraya Yisan, an elite civil servant who was appointed to develop canals in the area.
The neighbourhood was busier in its early days. It was the location of one of the first hospitals in the country — Thonburi Hospital, built 114 years ago during the reign of King Rama V, to treat patients suffering from the plague.
It later became a residential area for wealthy families and elites who travelled to work in Bangkok by boat. Their houses were often located next to the river.
The inner part of Klong San has been known as a quiet local community with less elite families residing there.
If anyone visited Charoen Nakhon today, they would experience bumper-to-bumper traffic caused by the construction of high-rises and mass transit lines.
On the median of the Charoen Nakhon Road, construction of the country’s first monorail known as the Gold Line is underway.
The construction is part of the first phase of the five kilometre line running from Krung Thon Buri Road to Pracha Thipok Road.
The first phase — a 2.8km stretch will connect riders with Iconsiam and other high-end property projects — will be completed in 2020.
The rest will be completed in 2023.
The Gold Line route is a project under the Bangkok Metropolitan Administration’s (BMA) jurisdiction.
The BMA hired a contractor to build the route, and Bangkok Mass Transit System Plc (BTSC) to operate the train service.
BTSC operates the BTS Skytrain service, while the Gold Line project is a public-private partnership.
The money used to build the rail in its first phase came from a private developer, according to Manit Techaapichok, managing director of Krungthep Thanakom Co.
Krungthep Thanakom is the City Hall holding company that operates public investment projects.
“The BMA in this project doesn’t have to pay a single baht or seek any funding from the government,” Mr Manit told the Bangkok Post.
“The money is expected to come from both ticket sales and sales of advertisements at the Gold Line’s stations,” he said.
Advertisement sales created a total of 1.9 billion baht in funds for the construction of the route, the electrical and mechanical system maintenance and hiring the consultant, he said.
Krungthep Thanakom sold for 2 billion baht to the business cluster owning the Iconsiam project advertisements that will run on the Gold Line’s stations for 30 years.
The owners of Iconsiam are Siam Piwat, Charoen Pokphand Group and Magnolia Quality Development Corporation Limited.
A contract was signed on July 31 with BTSC to fund one of the light rails. The concession is for 30 years at a cost of 13.52 billion baht, said Mr Manit. BTSC must invest in the monorail’s operations during that concession period.
The light rail route will be elevated 14-17 metres above the ground — similar to the height of other electric rail routes.
The light rail, he said, has a lower capacity for passengers than the BTS Skytrain due to the smaller size of the trains used.
Each train consists of two carriages, which are capable of transporting up to 4,300 passengers per hour, he said.
By the time the Gold Line service begins in late 2020, the service is projected to serve about 42,000 passengers a day.
The Gold Line is designed to connect the area with Bangkok’s main electric rail network. The Krung Thon Buri station will be connected via a walkway with the Green Line’s extended route from Saphan Taksin to Bang Wa, he said.
In the future, when the SRT Dark Red Line and the MRT Purple Line are constructed, those lines will stretch into areas where Gold Line passengers will be able to change trains, he said.
The project will improve public transportation systems in Thon Buri district of Bangkok, especially in the fast-growing areas along the Chao Phraya River, said Mr Manit.
For many Bangkok residents, Klong San is a relatively unknown, older community. For property developers, it is the future.
The area is part of Riverside — one of three major development locations in Bangkok that also include Bang Sue, Rama IV, and Sathon.
Developers believe these areas will redraw the Bangkok skyline by 2020.
Aliwassa Pathnadabutr, managing director of the property consultant CBRE Thailand, told the Bangkok Post in an Aug 13 interview that many luxury property projects are reviving the Riverside.
They are all on Charoen Nakhon Road in the Klong San area.
“On the other side of the river, the Four Seasons Private Residences Bangkok on Charoen Krung Road will be built, which will be another step in the transformation of the Riverside from an old warehouse and dock area to a prime hotel, retail and residential location,” Ms Aliwassa said.
She said the development of mass transit will bring change to the city.
“The completion of the Blue and Green Line extensions and Light and Dark Red mass transit lines will provide greater connectivity from Bangkok’s city centre to its midtown and suburban locations,” Ms Aliwassa said.
Source: Bangkok Post – 4 November 2018