Two Govt Colonial Buildings in Rangoon to Get New Owners by Year’s End

By Kyaw Hsu Mon 22 October 2014

RANGOON — The Directorate of Investment and Companies Registration will announce the auction winners of two government-owned heritage buildings in Rangoon by the end of this year, Aung Naing Oo, the director general of DICA, told The Irrawaddy this week.

The former Export and Import Enterprise office at the corner of Merchant and Mahabandoola streets, and the ex-office of the Commerce Ministry’s Corporation No. 5 on Bo Sun Pat Street in Pabedan Township will be repurposed as hotels by yet-to-be determined private companies.

In late 2013, DICA announced that it would auction four government-owned heritage buildings this year. In addition to the abovementioned properties, it said the former head office of the Ministry of Hotels and Tourism on Sule Pagoda Road—formerly known as the Fytche Square Building—and the old Myanma Oil and Gas Enterprise office on Merchant Street in Pabedan Township would be privatized.

Among the four buildings, DICA has compiled full documentation of ownership histories for the former Export and Import Enterprise office and the former Corporation No. 5 office.

“These two buildings will be the first up for auction to the private sector soon. We will announce who the winners are before end of this year, but for the other two, we’re still tracing ownership history,” Aung Naing Oo said.

“Though these buildings are owned by the government, we need more records of the original owners before auctioning to the private sector,” he added.

Aung Naing Oo said some of the buildings up for auction date back more than 100 years, constructed during the British colonial era. Dozens of colonial buildings in Rangoon were left abandoned or repurposed after Burma’s former military regime abruptly moved the capital to Naypyidaw in 2005.

Moe Moe Lwin, the director of the Yangon Heritage Trust (YHT), said the two buildings that will be actioned this year are believed to have been built between 1920 and 1930.

“These two buildings are on the heritage buildings list of YHT. We’ve known that these would be auctioned as hotel projects since two years ago. We have made recommendations to the government on how to maintain them, as well as to suggest private companies that should win the bids,” she said, adding that as heritage buildings, their owners would be expected to respect the historical legacy and architectural value of the structures in restoration efforts.

“It’s better, if the government can’t maintain themselves, to allow private companies to preserve them. It is in the long-term interest of these buildings, but these maintainers should know the value of heritage buildings, not just be looking for profits,” she said.

YHT, which is leading efforts to preserve the former capital’s abundance of colonial architecture, has compiled a list of more than 1,000 publicly and privately owned buildings that it considers of heritage value. The Yangon City Development Committee (YCDC) has compiled a less expansive list of between 100 and 200 public buildings in the city.

Since DICA announced plans to auction the buildings last year, the Inle Lake View Resort, Green Vision Co. Ltd., Apple Tree Co. Ltd., and Union Resources & Engineering Co. Ltd. (UREC) have been nominated as candidates for the restoration of the former Export and Import Enterprise office.

Apple Tree, S.V. Resort and Pacific Prince International Pte. Ltd. have been nominated for the former Corporation No. 5 building.