New lease on life for Lucky Complex?

PHUKET CITY: The Phuket Provincial Administration Organization (OrBorJor) has agreed to issue a concession for private company Phamonkij Witsavakram (PW) to refurbish the abandoned Lucky Complex at Saphan Hin and run it as a duty-free plaza for 25 years.

OrBorJor President Anchalee Vanich-Thepabutr made the announcement on September 13.

However, the agreement is contingent on several key factors, including Customs Department approval for duty-free goods to be sold at the site, which will be renamed Sawasdee Phuket Duty Free.

The OrBorJor application to Customs also asked that stores in the complex be allowed to sell duty-free goods to Thai tourists who present some form of proof, such as an air ticket or hotel bill, proving that they have stayed in Phuket for more than two days. Thais would be limited to spending 100,000 baht on duty-free per trip.

In addition, before PW may take over the premises in January next year, it must prove to the OrBorJor that it has at least 200 million baht to spend on the project, half of which must be spent on refurbishing the rundown complex.

PW will also have to pay more than 1.67 million baht in outstanding rent – the legacy of the previous leaseholder, Lucky Seafood Co, which was evicted by the OrBorJor in March 2002.

The concession will also require PW, a construction company based in Nonthaburi province, to pay 500,000 baht a month rent for the first three years, with a 9% increase every three years.

K. Anchalee said, “Over the 25 years, the OrBorJor will receive more than 350 million baht, which is a high return compared with the 17 million baht in rent we would have received under the old deal.”

Another part of the agreement, she said, was that parts of the complex must be earmarked for the OrBorJor to hold public activities and for local products to be displayed and sold.

K. Anchalee explained that she had presented the company’s proposal to the OrBorJor council on September 10, and that the council had agreed unamimously.

She added that the agreement was not open to tenders, as is normal with government contracts. OrBorJor lawyer Nitikorn Thuanthavil later explained to the Gazette that, because the OrBorJor owns the land and the building, it was not required to open the contract to bids.

“We gave the concession to this private company without bidding [by other companies],” K. Anchalee said, “because no other companies have made a proposal for the site, and we believed that no other company would be able to match the offer made by PW.”

She added that income from the concession will be spent on improvements to the 80 rai of land in Saphan Hin that is owned by the OrBorJor.

“This project will encourage tourists from abroad and from Thailand to spend more money on buying brand-name goods, which will boost income for Phuket and the country,” she said.

The move to rejuvenate the Lucky Complex may signal the end of the site’s long and checkered history. Construction of the building began in 1992, and Lucky Seafood Co, part of the Kata Group, opened the complex as a department store in 1996.

It closed down less than a year later, after furious tenants moved out, having found that essential utilities, including electricity, were not provided.

The OrBorJor resumed management of the building after Lucky Seafood failed to pay rent for two years. Since then, the building has stood abandoned, serving only as a shelter for homeless people and drug users.

Phuket News
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