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Pattaya’s Waterfront Suites White Elephant Tower Asks to Resume Construction

Demolition ordered year ago, to no result. So owner offers to trim 8 floors. City Hall just laughed

Waterfront Suites Residence Pattaya Thailand Condo Tower-2
Pattaya's derelict Waterfront Suites & Residence tower. Photo: Bangkok Herald

It’s been a year since Pattaya said it would tear down a derelict 53-story condo tower, but, since Waterfront Suites and Residence remains standing, its owner is trying again to salvage its bankrupt project.

Bali Hai Construction Co., a spin-off of the bankrupt developer, Bali Hai Co., applied for permission to modify its construction permit to demolish the top 30 of 90 meters in order to bring the tower in line with Pattaya height requirements.

Pattaya officials, however, aren’t having any of it, saying a demolition order already has been issued, the job has been put out for bid and the modified building would still violate building codes because it wouldn’t connect to any major street.

Demolition of the towering white elephant – ordered in October last year – was intended to be the final nail in the coffin of the project, an epic financial loss not only for the developer and contractor, but the hundreds of individual buyers who lost hundreds of millions of baht in down payments.

Photo: Bangkok Herald

The tower, originally 53 stories spread over more than 60 rai split into seven legal parcels, had been a lightning rod since construction began in 2008. Lambasted initially as a colossal eyesore on the Pattaya skyline, the mammoth black concrete tower soared above the the Prince Chumphon monument, which was meant to be the highest point in Pattaya.

Its opponents eventually succeeded in stopping development, winning a decision to have the tower reduced by three stories. However, the military-appointed leaders that took over Pattaya in 2015 went even further, claiming the condo encroached on public land and had to be torn down.

The project’s backers, government and individual buyers remain neck deep in legal conflicts, with the key to the controversy being the seven different legal plots which were pieced together to allow construction.

Courts rule the title deeds were illegally granted, but legal fights over compensation continue.

Both the 2018 bankruptcy case and all the buyers’ lawsuits remain in limbo. Last year, Mayor Sonthaya Kunplome said the tower couldn’t be torn down as long as it is the subject of legal proceedings. All that could be done was bring in a dozen demolition experts to work on a plan to demolish the huge structure if and when the city is allowed to.

Based on Sonthaya’s Oct. 9 comments, the building now can be torn down and the job has been put out for bidders.

Bali Hai Construction, however, contends that it can remove the top eight floors and get legal. It also pledged to remedy access issues to alleviate traffic concerns.

Pattaya officials, however, insist the front of the building, next to Bali Hai Pier, must connect directly to either Third Road or the Bali Hai flyover. It does neither and would create a traffic nightmare at the South Pattaya pier.

City lawyers also maintain that the tower still encroaches on public land, pointing to court decisions.

Finally, the city’s legal experts believe that because the demolition process has already begun, Bali Hai Co. cannot renew or modify its construction permit. Waterfront’s fate is sealed.

But fate has a way to getting lost on the way to becoming true, so Waterfront’s last chapter will not be written just yet.

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