This article is for legitimate investors and property pundits who understand things like buy/sell signals, market timing and infrastructure plays. There is no mention of flagging tourism or and over-inventoried condo market. This article is about surfing in front of the next wave of development in the Bangkok-Chonburi Corridor and it all happens east of Sukhumvit Road.
Because I live half of the time in Pattaya and half in Bangkok, I am frequently stunned by new development in both places. This month I took a trip to one of my favorite neighborhoods; East Pattaya.
For decades this sprawling collection of villages has been populated with an eclectic mix of budget conscious housing, one-off luxury villas and various a sundry shop-house based businesses. There never seemed to be a cohesive plan.
While shiny new real estate developments popped up in different shapes and sizes, no rhyme or reason made itself apparent and predicting what may or may not happen to the place as a community was pure folly. Well, those days are over for The Dark Side.
I’d like to assume everyone understands what an “infrastructure play” is, but I feel compelled to define by example.
In 1999 I moved to Bangkok just as the Skytrain opened for business and bought distressed condos near the intersection of Asoke and Sukhumvit Roads.
This is one of two interchange stations where the Skytrain meets the MRT underground subway. There two infrastructure projects changed how residents in a city of 10 million people live.
In three years my property value shop up over 35%. Because of the sweet location, I was able to keep all three condos rented yielding an average 11% return. That is a classic infrastructure play accented by fortuitous market timing.
Now let’s apply this strategy using what I recently observed in East Pattaya because the coming explosion of development in this area will be fueled by infrastructure on several levels.
Roads, bridges, airports, deep water ports and rail lines are what most folks consider actual “infrastructure”. When driving from Bangkok to Pattaya on the Number 7 Motorway signs of concrete infrastructure are evident as brand new toll booths and Highway Authority administration buildings are clustered just south of Laem Chabang.
Every time I pass the interchange just north of Pattaya I look at the new highways stretching out in both directions and wonder, “where the hell are all those roads going”.
Well, the eastbound lanes run through the middle of East Pattaya and goes all the way to Sattahip where the big Royal Thai Navy base is located. Not just a “road” mind you, but and eight-lane motorway.
Pong grows up
The East Pattaya municipality of “Pong” is preparing for an influx of new residents and a housing boom.
A once sleepy farming village has widened its main thoroughfares and built state-of-the-art roadways to accommodate new residents and businesses.
The municipal administration building has doubled in size in anticipation of a growth spurt. Fiber optic cable bringing high speed internet is being laid down wherever new roads appear all over East Pattaya.
As I stood looking at mounds of plowed up red clay and concrete stanchions, I got the eerie feeling that somebody knows something I don’t. The Thai government has rolled out dozens of primary Infrastructure projects like this and others including a rail link to China through Laos that is rumored to include a spur … you guessed it … right through East Pattaya. In total, 36 billion USD has been projected to be spent with 25 billion USD already approved in 2017.
Following this “hard” Infrastructure is a wave of secondary Infrastructure also taking root.
East Pattaya will be home to a major addition to our already impressive international school community, The Rugby School Thailand. The Rugby School is steeped in 450 years of history as one of the United Kingdom’s leading providers of private education.
The Thai-based firm Wisdom Enterprise Company, Ltd has partnered with The Rugby School and acquired a 190 rai plot in East Pattaya for construction of a new state-of-the-art campus that will include an 11 kilometer bicycle track, a lake and a golf driving range. The school will offer both day and boarding programs.
According to Tanya Teepsuwan, CEO of Rugby School Thailand and Wisdom Enterprise Company, Ltd, “After extensive research, we decided that Chonburi would be the perfect location for Rugby School Thailand.
Our property in Chonburi offers the ideal setting for an international school.” The “ideal” setting happens to be right between East Pattaya’s existing duo of posh private schools, The Regent’s School and St. Andrews International School.
Adding to this layer of development will be a shopping facility of significant proportions. The Robinson’s Group has purchased 100 rai in the same area which usually means a multi-faceted shopping complex complete with department stores, movie theaters, specialty shops and restaurants.
And, speaking of shopping, rumor has it that over 700 rai has been purchased by Siam Future Development(SF), the group that created Mega-Bangna in Bangkok.
For those unfamiliar with the Mega Banga Complex, it is one of the largest shopping malls in Southeast Asia. With over 400,000 square meters of retail space, Mega Bangna hosts large distribution centers like Home Pro, Robinson, Big C, a huge IKEA home store and over 450 brand shops. The place also features an oversized ice rink, a food court, a 24 lane bowling alley and a huge major Cineplex.
The car park can accommodate 8,000 cars! What’s more, SF Development is spending 67 billion baht to complete its mixed-use Megacity project in the surrounding area.
The entire project will take 14 years to complete. The Megacity complex will add hotels, office buildings, residential units and other mixed-use facilities in around the Mega Bangna shopping center.
Next year the developer will spend another 3 billion baht to build a 240 room 4-star hotel next to the shopping mall. With a 700 rai purchase of prime East Pattaya property, could we have a Megacity in our future?
Another rumor has the purchase being made by IT Tech, a huge engineering firm with facilities all over Thailand. Either way, 700 rai of jobs and commerce appear to be on their way to East Pattaya. And, rounding things out, it appears that Siam Country Club is constructing a new golf course adjacent to the backside of their old one.
A few years ago, clusters of flowering trees were strategically planted along the road opposite the old course to make sure they are established and maturing to form the border of the new course. Development now appears to be well underway as an irrigation lake has already been dug and roadways cleared for access.
Connect the dots
So let’s connect these dots shall we? we’ve got an eight-lane super highway that runs through the middle of the Bangkok-Chonburi corridor all the way down the Eastern Seaboard to the Royal Thai Naval installation in Sattahip. It also creates a beeline from the deep water port at Laem Chabang and the huge cluster of industrial estates, through East Pattaya and down to Utapao International Airport; which by the way is also being expanded three-fold. And we’ve got a rail line connecting Thailand to China running right through our back yard.
One might call the whole area a giant ASEAN infrastructure gateway. Critical air, land and sea thoroughfares with East Pattaya right in the middle of it all. Additionally, we have the village of Pong gearing up to morph from a bump in the road to an instant city, complete with well-lit boulevards and private schools. And, not just any private school; an internationally renowned institution with a 450 year legacy.
A school that isn’t just on the drawing boards, but scheduled to commence classes later in 2017 and early 2018. We also have two shopping behemoths grabbing up huge chunks of land to provide all the retail opportunities a burgeoning new community could desire. And good old established Siam Country Club is quietly expanding their leisure sports empire to embrace new residents, tourists and business travelers alike. I’m sure if I spent some more time in East Pattaya, I’d see more signs of the coming boom every day.
Property prices are already escalating in anticipation of the coming wave. A shortage of family style and luxury homes is certain to mean capital appreciation for investors smart enough to get in early. Existing luxury residences in and around Lake Mabprachan are particularly well placed between downtown Pattaya and the motorway to Bangkok and Sattahip. Families desiring easy access to international schools like The Rugby School Thailand will certainly have places like Pong Municipality on their radar.
Capital appreciation, increased development and community building … exciting times for residents and investors in East Pattaya!
Surfing in front of the wave
A few years ago, my youngest son attempted to tech me to surf. While bobbing in the warm Atlantic Ocean he instructed, “You surf in front of the wave Dad, not on top. When you feel the water beneath you swelling, start paddling and get ready to jump on your board for a sweet ride”. I never “shredded” a single wave that day, but the metaphor stayed with me forever.
With all these infrastructure and development signals, it doesn’t take a genius to know that “Surf’up” in East Pattaya”.
By Bart Walters