A90-minute drive around the Gulf of Thailand on Highway 7 will take you into the province of Chonburi, an area of Thailand second only to Bangkok for economic power. It’s probably best known for being the location of Pattaya, a major tourist destination (six million arrivals last year) as well as an alleged hotspot for organised crime and possibly the capital of the country’s sex trade. Unsavoury as all that may be it’s still minority activity, and Pattaya has also grown into a major trade hub, with manufacturing and transport among the industries that underpin the local economy. CBRE’s forecast for Pattaya’s commercial, industrial and residential real estate markets is optimistic and Jones Lang LaSalle opened a new office there in 2011. That doesn’t sound like a city with an image problem major business players usually distance themselves from.
Nigel Cornick, CEO of developer Kingdom Property is bullish on Pattaya’s future too. Just launched is Kingdom’s Southpoint, south of the city proper and looming over it near Pratumak Hill. Secluded just out of reach of Pattaya and the increasingly bustling Jomtien, the property isn’t so far away that Southpoint won’t feature panoramic views of Jomtien Beach and Pattaya Bay while cultivating a lifestyle vibe. Pattaya has also re-bounded onto the tourist radar and is morphing into Thailand’s newest vacation destination. Projects like Southpoint — near, but not directly in Pattaya — are helping to rehabilitate the city’s image (as is the concerted efforts by its municipal government) and are part of the reason the property market is looking up. “We can hope it will be less sleazy, or portrayed that way, as areas outside of Pattaya City become mature and develop. There’s not going to be a new five-star hotel built in the middle of Pattaya because there’s nowhere to build it. So it’s going to be on the beach at Jomtien or Bang Saray,” says Cornick.
Cornick has a substantial experience in Pattaya already from his stint as CEO of Thai real estate behemoth Raimon Land, whose developments there include Northshore and Northpoint as well as The River in Bangkok. Scheduled for completion in 2015, Southpoint’s interiors come courtesy of Stephen O’Dell Architecture and Interiors (Novotel Kolkata) and SODA Thailand, while the landscaping will be handled by Colin K Okashimo and Associates (Grange Residences in Singapore).
Suffice it to say Pattaya is turning into a smart investment. “There is this industrial eastern seaboard, which has created demand for accommodation for workers and management for rentals. There’s a strong rental market that wasn’t there in 2004,” notes Cornick. “Many Japanese car manufacturers have made the decision to move their primary factories to the eastern seaboard and that has created more demand. That’s born out by the take-up of industrial land this year.” Colliers International agrees. “Pattaya is gradually shrugging off its unsavoury image and developing into a more family-oriented resort providing many activities suitable for all ages,” the agency stated in its September 2012 Pattaya Buyer’s Guide. The city does feature several international schools and hospitals, world-class leisure facilities (shopping, entertainment, dining), and Suvarnabhumi International Airport and the relatively new freeway have made the Eastern Seaboard area that much more connected. “Pattaya will attract an estimated eight million visitors in 2012 according to a source from the Tourism Authority of Thailand. Pattaya is Thailand’s premier resort destination and one of the top resorts in South East Asia. Rental potential is great, due to increased government spending luring growing numbers of tourists and an upturn in industry bringing with it a large expatriate workforce,” summed up Colliers.
Southpoint will ultimately comprise over 650 units in two towers — 431 in the 30-storey Tower A and 224 in the 20-storey Tower B. Studio units measure from approximately 325 square feet, with one-bedroom units ranging from 440 to 930 square feet and two-bedroom units ranging between 650 and 1,000 square feet. The project’s services and amenities will include 24-hour security, smart home technology, infinity lap pool and children’s playground, comprehensive gym and spa facilities and a dedicated sky deck with timber decking in each tower. Individual suites will feature appliances by the likes of Hafele, Franke, Smeg and Cotto. Prices range from THB65,000 to THB100,000 per square metre — approximately HK$6,500 to $10,000 per square foot. As Cornick finishes, “Southpoint is a great entry-level investment. We’re keeping it affordable without cutting corners, and it’s a property that will appeal to buyers from all over Asia.” A little unsavouriness never hurt Vegas.