PHUKET: Reading through the news each week for Phuket, we all see the stabbings; suicides; drive-by shootings; drug hauls; crazed mini-van and other public vehicle smashes; horrific murders and assaults.
Some elect to comment on these stories in the hope that those who can do something about the levels of crime will take action not just to deal with crime, but to try and prevent it. I have personally commented on some of the more shocking news items that I have seen. Sometimes it is hard to hold inside the negativity surrounding this type of news.
To be fair, crime isn’t exclusive to Phuket. In recent times Chicago has been going through a series of crime waves and, as with all places that allow guns to be traded fairly easily in the public domain, gun deaths ensue. Many sub-Saharan countries, such as Somalia, are rife with crime, and in many major cities around the world there are ‘neighborhoods’ which, for one reason or another, become crime centers.
However, many of those places don’t rely primarily upon tourism in a direct or indirect manner, and many of those places aren’t seeking to expand their tourism market through attracting higher quality and longer-staying tourists, as is the case in Phuket.
Phuket’s crime and its management, will continue to significantly shape the neighborhoods of Phuket, and therefore their property prices.
Land and property prices used to be subject to quite a simple set of parameters: sea view; proximity to a beach; access; and proximity to the airport.
We all know this has changed and developed to include proximity to retail outlets, sports/recreational facilities, schools and hospitals, as well as distance from congested traffic areas.
With the continuing Phuket crime-waves that seem to increase each year, neighborhoods will be impacted, with the value of land upon which properties are constructed being influenced. Below, I have listed the crime dimensions that might influence the development of neighborhoods in future:
– Whether or not motorbike gangs operate in the area
– Proximity to communities with known drug issues
– Proximity to an entertainment area, or drinking establishment known to be a hotbed of criminal activity; excessive noise and illegal closing times
– Proximity to a ‘cut-through’ or ‘short-cut’ road around a traffic congestion zone, resulting in public vehicles frequently violating traffic laws including speeding and driving dangerously
– Proximity to a public park were crimes are often committed
– Proximity to a perceived danger area such as a taxi rank
Will the Surin Beach area become an area with high burglary rates due to the large number of upscale villas, or will the security guards and CCTV cameras function to ward off intruders?
Will Kathu become the new Patong? Will Rawai become an underage motorbike driver-free zone? Will public parks have roaming security guards policing the theft of coins from Krathongs at Loy Krathong?
Time will tell.
Our neighborhoods will develop according to the normal factors that influence real estate values, but crime will also play a large part in determining the attractiveness of various locations and the re-sale market will reflect that accordingly.
Neighborhoods in other countries have created ‘Neighborhood Watch’ programs, in which communities and residents cooperate to fill the gaps where the enforcement authorities lack the resources to cope with the amount of crime. The focus in such groups is always on crime prevention. I understand more CCTV cameras are coming to Phuket soon, and provided they are monitored properly, they are welcome.
Desmond Hughes has been an owner and operator of his law firm in Thailand for 14 years, and is a Senior Partner at the Hughes Krupica law firm: www.hugheskrupica.com
— Desmond Hughes
Family of British Phuket property developer say “he was murdered”
PHOTO: Lawyer Vincent McOwen holding up a photo of Steven James Granville – Khaosod English
A lawyer representing the family of Steven James Granville has filed a complaint with the Technology Crime Suppression Division (TCSD) in Bangkok over police reports about injuries sustained in a 2013 ‘cycling incident’.
The TCSD is now overseen by Immigration Chief Pol Lt Gen Surachate Hakparn.
Karon Police wrote it off as a cycling accident at the time. But lawyer Vincent McOwen says the family were now coming forward as Mr. Granville died last year at the age of 52 after being brain dead and confined to bed in a UK hospital for four years.
Mr. Granville opened Puravarna Resort, a 800 million baht project set on 113 rai of land back in 2000. He was sentenced to jail for over a year for fraud in 2010.
He was charged for deceiving buyers into paying for homes at the project that were never built. Nineteen buyers claimed they had paid a total of 217 million baht but Phase 1 of the project had stalled and Phase 2 never materialised.
A report from 2010 involving the arrest of Mr Granville in a Phuket resort scam HERE.
He was released from prison after nearly 18 months , as outstanding criminal charges have been dropped over his involvement in the Purnavarna project in Phuket. Full report HERE.
A video walk-thru of the proposed Puravarna Resort published back in 2009
Lawyer Vincent McOwen, acting for Mr. Granville’s family, is asking for a full and fair investigation.
“It is an ongoing case but we are hearing nothing back. We are getting no feedback,” he said to Khaosod English.
The lawyer is asking police to investigate two former partners of Mr. Granville who were involved in another project in 2012. He alleges the pair asked Mr. Granville to transfer 99 percent of Puravarna Resort’s shares, valued around 1 billion baht, reasoning that his criminal record could affect the project.
According to the lawyer the siblings promised to return the shares within six months if a deal wasn’t forthcoming.
On June 24, 2013, three months later, after the shares were allegedly transferred, Mr. Granville was seriously injured in a ‘cycling accident’.
Mr. Granville’s family suspected foul play, despite the conclusion of Karon police and has lost 15 million baht in a losing legal battle to get back their property shares back.
The lawyer claims the only injury found at the time was ‘blunt force trauma’ to the man’s head. A police report says that there were no other wounds on his body.
Karon Police ruled the incident a cycling accident.
“This was not an accident. He suffered for four and a half years,” said Lawyer Vincent McOwen.
SOURCES: Khaosod English
Phuket tram project seeks private sector investment
(The term ‘tram’ and ‘light rail’ are variously used to describe the new public transport project for Phuket.)
The Mass Rapid Transit Authority of Thailand (MRTA) is now inviting the private sector and local administrative bodies to get behind and invest in a mass-transit project in Phuket. The project is valued around 35 billion baht. The next rounds of talks and presentations are being held in Bangkok this Friday.
The main feature is a new 58.5 kilometre long light rail service valued at 34.8 billion baht. The tram route plans to run from Tha Noon in Phang Nga province, across Sarasin Bridge onto Phuket, past the airport, through Phuket Town on the east coast and then finishing at Chalong’s main intersection near the Chalong Circle.
The Phuket tram project has been divided into two phases: a 41.7 kilometre section from Phuket airport to Chalong intersection and a second phase, a 16.8 kilometre stretch from Tha Noon in Phang Nga to Muang Mai at the north end of Phuket, linking to the first phase.
The MRTA will contract the first phase which will have 21 stations. They expect to seek cabinet approval for the project in the middle of this year with construction likely to begin in 2020. They estimate it will be operational by 2023.
At this stage, the MRTA says tram fares will be calculated based on the distance travelled but a maximum fare would not be more than be 100 – 137 baht. This would put the cost of daily use for many local Thais out of reach of their budgets (it costs about 80 baht to fill an average 110cc scooter which would last most of the week).
An earlier rendering of the proposed route and stops for the Phuket Light Rail/Tram
Critics say the tram stops avoid most of the tourist hot spots along the west coast of the island and features on locals living along the main Thepkasattri truck route from Thalang to Phuket Town and then Chao Fah east to Chalong.
They also don’t believe that Thai users are likely to give up their point-to-point motorcycle transport for a more inconvenient, and expensive, tram that will necessitate them using expensive taxis, buses and motorcycle taxis at either end to get them to their destinations.
Critics also cite the three year construction period, which if following recent major road construction projects, is likely to blow out to four or five years and and the massive disruption of traffic during the construction time. They also believe the loss of road space along the route will restrict local road traffic even more, neutralising the nett gains of the new tram system.
The island’s Governor says Phuket is experiencing rapid growth and that traffic is getting worse, adding that an efficient mass transit system, was urgently needed to accommodate tourists (without explaining how the new light rail/tram would actually assist tourists).
The MRTA is also working on a three-route tram project in Chiang Mai. The red line would be worth 30.4 billion baht and the 11.9 kilometre Green Line would have 10 stations worth 36.2 billion baht. The Blue Line will travel from the Chiang Mai Zoo to Tha Phae-Don Chan.
Co-working space – not just for start-ups
PHOTO: HUBBA-TO co-working space in Bangkok
by Thanchanok Phobut | Senior Coordinator, CBRE Thailand
CBRE, an international property consultancy company, reveals that co-working space seems to be on the tip of everyone’s tongue these days. There was a time when no-one knew what the term “serviced office” meant or why someone would want such an option. But today, you can’t open a business publication without seeing an article about co-working. Most people think of co-working spaces as being a thriving hub of young latte-sipping, technology entrepreneurs, coming up with the next big idea that will make them multi-millionaires.
While there is an element of truth to this image, the end-goal for many co-working space operators is to change the way that companies, not just start-ups, source their office space. They want companies to pay for office space as a service rather than follow the traditional route of signing a lease, fitting out their own space, having an office manager maintain the premises and hiring their own employees for reception and administrative duties.
Co-working office operators usually offer companies their own private space. It is most common to be offered an office based on the size you will need to fit in a set number of desks. For example, if your company has four employees, your package offer will include a furnished closed office with four desks, 4 chairs and optional telecommunications equipment for four people (internet service, phone number and a telephone handset).
There is usually a common kitchen area and spaces to meet and mingle. Think of it like a five-star hotel, you’re not sharing a room, but you are getting a high level of service and amenities on the premises.
You usually have a short-term commitment, not signing a lease for years. The best deal is usually for a year or more, but you can lease your office for as short as one month. Starting and ending your relationship with an operator is most often quick and easy. Since the office is already outfitted and reception services provided, getting to work is much quicker than when you need to design your new space yourself or hire your own support staff.
“Competition in the space is red hot. As more and more offices pop up, the fight to achieve 100% occupancy is fierce. When shopping for your space, be sure to consider more than just price, as the services and reputation of your provider are just as important.
“If you do your homework, you’ll avoid the pitfalls of co-working space, such as unreturned deposits, unexpectedly thin walls between units or fees for things like coffee and copying that you didn’t expect. The great news is, changing providers is much easier than with traditional space,” states Mr. Nithipat Tongpun, Head of Advisory & Transaction Services – Office, CBRE Thailand.
According to a recent CBRE report on the New York City office market:
- While traditional long-term leases are the preferred model for business and the foundation of the commercial office market, the rapid growth of third-party flexible space operators provides occupiers with a wide variety of options for leasing office space. Since 2013, when the expansion of third-party flexible space began to gain significant traction, the sector has averaged an annual growth rate of 22 percent.
- There are strong indicators of user demand for the services of the third-party space providers. In fact, 75 percent of corporate occupiers anticipate including co-working or flexible space in their occupancy portfolio over the next three years.
- Smaller users also continue to be an important part of the target market; as the flexible space footprint has grown in Manhattan, the amount of traditional leasing among tenants under 5,000 sq. ft. has dropped off by 42 percent between 2013 and year-end 2017, suggesting that these users are migrating to flexible space solutions.
In Bangkok, four large co-working space operators are opening in multiple locations. JustCo, Spaces, The Great Room and WeWork leased a combined total of 25,000 square metres of space in some of Bangkok’s best office buildings last year and they are still growing.
“I recently met Yvan Maillard, general manager of The Great Room‘s Singapore operation and he said that, in Singapore, 30% of his clients are late stage start-ups, 30 % are private investment family offices and 30% are mainstream corporates. In the case of corporates, they often lease co-working space as a stopgap before finding a larger permanent office for their expanding team,” said Mr. James Pitchon, Head of Research and Consulting, CBRE Thailand.
It is not only the way companies source their office space that is changing. Even those companies who continue to lease office space directly are changing the way that they use the space – having your own office or even your own desk is out of fashion – agile working is all the rage.
Mr. Nihipat added, “Companies are providing employees with a daily choice of environments from quiet space to a layout that enables teams to collaborate. Employees are expected to move around the office, depending on their tasks. The objective is to create a workspace that fulfills the employees’ needs in a high-quality environment, while minimizing the number of individual desks needed, effectively putting more people to work in less space.”
Globally and in Bangkok, the office market will continue to evolve and while traditional leases are yet to be seen as a thing of the past, CBRE expects more companies to provide agile working environments. CBRE also expects to see significant growth in the amount of co-working spaces provided by third party suppliers.
“This will mean an increase in the demand for high quality buildings with flexible, column free floor plates, technically advanced air conditioning and temperature control, as well as sufficient lift capacity to deal with higher rates of occupation density.
Many of the new generation of buildings currently under construction or being planned in Bangkok will have these features and we won’t be surprised to see more and more co-working spaces open their doors as companies weigh the real advantages of this option versus traditional space.
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