The Myanmar Times
Saturday, 19 April 2014
The Myanmar Times
The Myanmar Times

Race to the sky heats up in Yangon

An Orchid Hotel staff member shows a model of the 38-storey 555 Merchant Street Office Tower Saturday, November 3, 2012.  (Htar Htar Khin / The Myanmar Times)An Orchid Hotel staff member shows a model of the 38-storey 555 Merchant Street Office Tower Saturday, November 3, 2012.  (Htar Htar Khin / The Myanmar Times)

Myanmar’s commercial capital appears to be witnessing a race to the sky following the announcement of a planned 38-storey office tower on Merchant Street, just weeks after a 34-storey development in Mayangone township was unveiled.

The 555 Merchant Street Office Tower will be built on a 23,000-square-foot block at the corner of Merchant and 36th streets in Kyauktada township, said Mr Khalilrudin Bin Shehabuddeen , executive director of Singapore-based Kawa Oil Co, which is developing the project.

He said the tower will offer 720,000 square feet of office space. And in a city increasing beset by parking problems, the tower will have four basement levels for parking, he said.

He added that the total cost of the project is estimated at more than US$100 million.

“The first six floors will be used for retail and banking but the remaining 32 storeys will be dedicated to offices,” he said. “The banking spaces will be available to both domestic and international banks because we expect international banks will be able to operate in Myanmar in future – and they are surely interested in working here,” said Mr Khalilrudin.

“We hope to develop the tower as a centre for excellence and we invite local and foreign companies to come and open offices, where we will provide international standard facilities,” he said.

Mr Khalilrudin said the timeline for the project was 30 months, with completion scheduled for October or November 2015.

“The project is designed by Irie Miyake Architects and Engineers from Japan, which has designed more than 100 skyscrapers worldwide. And the firm will also provide technical assistance, engineering and other services. The project design is at the final stage and will be made available within two weeks,” Mr Khalilrudin said.

“Myanmar has now become a distinct choice for international investors, including those from Japan. This project is particularly meant as multinational investment project that bring together investors from Japan, Singapore and other countries as well,” he added.

He said one of the main aims of the development was to meet the demand for office space in the city.

“The first aim is to fulfil the office space requirements in Yangon because there is only a limited supply of premium office space,” he said.

“Another aim is to create a centre for business incubation: We want to allow our future users the best environment to harness their innovative and creative ideas so they can produce world beating products and services,” he said.

The building will include between eight and 12 elevators with backup electricity generators.

“We want this building to be a long lasting landmark that will remain close to the hearts of the beautiful people of Myanmar. Through coincidence and luck, the signing ceremony for this project took place just after the enactment of Myanmar’s amended Foreign Investment Law,” he said.

The signing ceremony was held at Sayasan Plaza in Bahan township on November 3 between Kawa Oil and the two owners of the property – U Khin Maung Aye, chairman of Co-operative Bank and U Htay Aung, chairman of National Group of Companies and owner of Orchid Hotel. Minister for Construction U Kyaw Lwin also attended the signing.

On that same day, Kawa Oil also signed an agreement with Irie Miyake Architects and Engineers to provide technical assistance for the project.