Burma

Sule Square Project Stalled in Negotiations

By Tin Htet Paing 16 August 2016

RANGOON — The Sule Square project Burma’s commercial capital of Rangoon is still under negotiation with the city’s municipal body to secure final approval of its construction, the Yangon City Development Committee (YCDC) told The Irrawaddy on Monday, because the developer has yet to fully agree to the committee’s modification demands for the project plan.

YCDC’s initial permission was granted in January 2013 based on the project’s original proposal, which promised a public space of over 5,000 square feet and nearly 900 square feet for public restrooms. But the project’s revised plan in March scaled down both of those designs—with only 1,300 square feet allotted for public space and 500-600 square feet for restrooms.

In early August, YCDC demanded that the developer modify the project plan in line with the municipal body’s requirements in order to issue final approval. Last week, the developer submitted its adjusted plan to YCDC, in which it agreed to modify the public space and public restrooms as originally proposed, said a senior official of the YCDC who was involved in the negotiation process with the Sule Square project but asked to remain anonymous.

“The developer has fixed the majority of our modification demands, but not all,” the official said. “We still have to negotiate further. Only if both sides come to an agreement will final approval be granted.”

The YCDC official also said, “both sides are generally in agreement on a serious monetary penalty to be levied” for the addition of two extra floors without final approval from the regional government and the YCDC.

The YCDC issues approval for buildings between nine and 12.5 stories, while developers of structures 13 stories or higher are required to seek approval from the Rangoon divisional government.

Sule Square is being built adjacent to the existing Sule Shangri-La Hotel—formerly known as Traders Hotel.

Construction of the 23-floor structure is nearly complete but includes two extra floors for which the developer did not have permission, according to the municipal committee’s initial approval of the project. Even though the two additional floors are a breach of the initial contract, the building maintains the original approved height of just over 302 feet.

The Irrawaddy contacted Sule Square center director Peter Ow on Monday to comment on the ongoing negotiations with the YCDC, but had received no reply at the time of publication.

The last comment received from Peter Ow came in an email to The Irrawaddy on August 5. He wrote that the company had applied for all requisite permits and was “in consultation with the authorities to secure final approval for the project.”

Speaking to The Irrawaddy last month, Aung San Win, secretary of the YCDC’s High-Rise Inspection Committee, said the complete revised plan of the project was submitted very late—just prior to the handover between the old and new Rangoon divisional governments in March. The former divisional government and the YCDC did not have a chance to approve the revised plan, in which about 10 findings were different from the plan the YCDC has initially approved, he added.

Part of the land on which Sule Square sits was originally an Armenian cemetery that was later turned into a public space after the country gained independence in 1948.

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