Wednesday, September 20, 2017

YCDC still mulling Sule Square decision

Yangon City Development Committee says it is unable to accept hotel group Shangri-La’s payment of a K2 billion (US$1.6 million) fine levied on the Sule Square project because the committee is still investigating the finished structure.

The Sule Square mall and office tower under construction in 2015. Photo: StaffThe Sule Square mall and office tower under construction in 2015. Photo: Staff

As developer of the Sule Square commercial complex, Shangri-La is being fined for building two additional stories on an office tower that were not in the approved design, according to the deputy head of YCDC’s Department of Engineering (Building) U Nay Win.

The K2 billion fine is based on a metric of K15,000 per square foot of unapproved space constructed, he told The Myanmar Times.

The developer received approval from the previous government for a 21-floor building adjacent to the Sule Shangri-La hotel in downtown Yangon, with two floors of basement and car parking. Then in January this year, after work had already begun, the company submitted a new proposed design, adding additional floors but no increase in height, said U Nay Win.

Although neither the old nor new administration approved the new design, YCDC found that the finished Sule Square office tower has 23 floors and only one floor for basement and car parking. ”We didn’t approve their revised proposal yet, they already finished building according that new design,” said U Nay Win. “It was built without a permit.”

Sule Square has already started advertising office space, but U Nay Win said that in addition to the fine YCDC is withholding a Building Completion Certificate, without which the building cannot open. The developer is eager the pay the fine and resolve the issue, he added.

“They want to pay their fine because they want to open their office tower,” he said.

However, YCDC is still waiting for additional input from the Committee for Quality Control of High-rise Building Construction Projects, and so has not accepted payment, U Nay Win said.

Sule Square’s centre director Peter Ow declined to comment on the changes made to the design or the developer’s willingness to pay the fine.

“All requisite permits for the development of the Sule Square mall have been applied for and we are currently in consultation with YCDC to secure final approval for the project,” he said.

U Khin Maung Maung, a member of the quality control committee, said that his committee had in fact approved the revised Sule Square design plan when it was first submitted. “We [the quality control committee] recommended the revised proposal but YCDC didn’t approve the changes,” he said.

U Nay Win could not be reached for clarification on what additional information YCDC requires from the quality control committee.

The Committee for Quality Control of High-rise Building Construction Projects is in charge of the guidelines for the design of buildings over 12 stories, evaluating proposed project designs and conducting on-site inspections as required.

The committee was heavily involved in a dramatic city-wide review of Yangon high-rise buildings that began in May. That review was widely criticised for penalising projects that had received full approval under the previous government, although instructions demanding drastic change to almost-finished projects were later rescinded.