Thai beer mogul plans $3.5bn “city within a city” for Bangkok

Thailand’s richest man, founder of the popular Chang brand of beer, is planning to invest $3.5bn in a people-centric "city within a city" in the centre of challenging Bangkok.

"One Bangkok", master planned by big-name US architect Skidmore, Owings & Merrill, is the brainchild of Charoen Sirivadhanabhakdi, the billionaire chairman of TCC Group.

A press statement describes it as a "city within a city" and Thailand’s first "fully integrated district that is built on people-centric principles and a focus on environmental sustainability and smart-city living".

"Our vision is to create a place that people can love and want to spend time in, which everyone in the city will feel is an integral part of our city," Sirivadhanabhakdi said. "Once completed, it will be a global landmark that will enhance Bangkok’s and Thailand’s stature on the world stage."

No single development of this scale and diversity has ever been undertaken in Thailand

The district will be built on 17ha land leased from the Crown Property Bureau, and is located next to Lumpini Park in the centre of the city (pictured). The master plan has been drawn up by US architect Skidmore, Owings & Merrill, and the intention is for the scheme’s buildings to achieve the LEED platinum standard.

The project is a joint effort by Sirivadhanabhakdi and his Singaporean subsidiary, Frasers Centrepoint, which is run by his youngest son, Panote Sirivadhanabhakdi.

"No single development of this scale and diversity has ever been undertaken in Thailand," Panote said. "One Bangkok will be a vibrant lifestyle destination that will affirm Bangkok’s position among the most desirable cities in the world to live, do business, and to visit."

The first phase of One Bangkok is due to be complete in 2021.

Although Bangkok is known for being an interesting place to live, it has not traditionally been regarded as comfortable. It was recently placed 131st out of 231 cities in the Mercer Quality of Living rankings, below Mexico City, Beijing and São Paulo. This list judges cities based on how pleasant they are for ex-patriates to live there.

Charoen Sirivadhanabhakdi, 73, is the son of a Chinese street vendor. He made his fortune in Thai whiskey, and later beer, having founded the Chang (Elephant) brand. He branched into property development in the 2000s.

Image: Lumpini Park in central Bangkok (Thai Tourism)

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