Soi Leunrit News


Soi Leunrit News
Variously spelled
'Luenrit' (Bangkok Post spelling)
'Reuangrit' (The Nation spelling)
'Loenrit' (spelling used by some area businesses)
'Luanrith' (English spelling on street signs in the area)


Soi Luenrit saved? - October 23, 2005
It appears the redevelopment of historic Soi Luenrit into a shopping and office complex has not gone forward. Even the slick sales office promoting the scheme is now vacant.



Above: Interior of 6-story building planned for the site

Left: Soi Leunrit shophouses with Langsuan Building and a temple prang in the background

What's planned for Soi Leunrit - May 4, 2004

This morning we visited the Soi Leunrit site office to see the renderings of what is planned for the site. No one was in the office, but we snapped these shots of the drawings through the glass. There is some reflection from the glass, but we thought 2Bangkok readers would want to see them anyway. The Sampeng Trade Center building is to be six stories high with what appears to be shophouses around the exterior.
The interior looks suspiciously similar to the failed Old Siam Shopping Center a few blocks away. A successful example of this concept is Bugis Junction in Singapore.


A tale of two newspapers - Latest on Soi Luenrit - April 12, 2004
Today the the Post has a generalized version of what is happening over at Soi Luenrit. Contrast it with the article from the Thai language paper (which we first ran a couple weeks ago) which points up allegations of dirty deals and gives all the details.

No backdown on Luenrit plan - Bangkok Post, April 12, 2004
...In 2002 the CPB awarded a 30-year lease over the property to Metro Regent. Residents have opposed the redevelopment, because they would be forced to leave the area, which is famous for its historic architecture dating to the reign of King Chulalongkorn. Bureau director-general Chirayu Isarangkun na Ayutthaya said the contract would not be cancelled even though residents had offered a new deal, including higher rents.
" We cannot end the contract just because someone makes a new offer,'' Mr Chirayu said.
The shopping mall's blueprint had already been revised and approved by the Fine Arts Department, he said.
The design details have not been made public, but the bureau insists the area's cultural significance will not be harmed.

Luenrit people protesting against capitalists' march! Petitioning to the King to protect Soi Luenrit community! - translated and summarized by Wisarut Bholsithi from Sawatdee Krungthep, March 19-25, 2004

[ Ed.: Why do you need Because otherwise you would be stuck with the 'government happy news' of the English-language papers instead of the real news Thai people are reading (like this fascinating story below). Sawatdee Krungthep is a new tabloid carrying local news about Bangkok as well as the articles comparing Bangkok with other cities around the world. A related story is the fight to remove Mahakan Fort community residents.]

Local people around Soi Luenrit Community (a community in between Yaowaraj Road and Chakkrawat Road) have delivered a petition to appeal the His Majesty to protest against capitalists who are going to build a 10-floor Sampheng Trade Center in Sampheng area which requires the destruction of Luenrit Community as well as historical buildings built during the King Chulaongkorn period (circa 1900-1910). On September 5, 2002, the BMA City Planning Office has invited people of Soi Luenrit to restore and improve Soi Luenrit community as historical place in Bangkok.

Those Sino-Thai people have rented the buildings around Soi Luenrit to set up a local community for three generations. After the lease contacts expired in 2002, the local people are waiting for the new contract while paying monthly rent to Royal Crown Property Bureau (the landlord).
However the Royal Crown Property Bureau signed a contract to set up Wang Subsin Co.Ltd as a joint venture with Metro Regent Co.Ltd. to develop Soi Luenrit community. The Royal Crown Property Bureau will be paid 400-500 million baht for the 30 year contract.
Metro Regent Co.Ltd was been set up on September 10, 2002 with a registered capital of 250 million baht. There are 4 people on the board of directors of Metro Regent Co.Ltd.:
1) Mr Santisuk Sajjathep, 2) Mr Ramez Kularbrai, 3) Mr Ajit Sajjathep, 4) Mr Parinya Sajjathep

This is a very irregular deal since the deal has been signed with urgency while there is an interlude period (the period before the the new contract has been renewed).
However, Wang Subsin Co.Ltd. has send a notice to people in Soi Luenrit that Wang Subsin Co.Ltd. is going to evict all the people in Soi Leodrit in 30 days after March 12, 2003 to transfer the land to Metro Regent Co.Ltd./Nexus Property Consultant Co.Ltd. To set up Sampheng Trade Center at Soi Luenrit.
Furthermore, Metro Regent Co.Ltd. Has sent another notice that: "Those who want to stay at Soi Luenrit must pay rent at the rate of 130,000 baht/sq meter and they can rent only the 3rd floor and up - the 1st and 2nd floor renting is strictly prohibited."
This kind of deal will enable Metro Regent to get tens of billions of revenue.

Even worse , the proposed Sampheng Trade Center has not been approved by BMA City Planning Office. No building higher than 16 floors and no building modification allowed within 50 meter radius from temple areas.
Therefore, Luenrit Community Board has asked Momratchawognse Sukhumbhan Boriphat (Bangkok MP, Saphanthawognse District) on February 15, 2003 to help the community from being destroyed by the companies.
Luenrit Community Board has asked the Department of Fine Arts three times to register buildings around Luenrit community as "Historical Building' since the proposed Sampheng trade Center has violated the building code in many cases such as
1) Building higher than 10 floors
2) Destroying historical buildings and architecture from the King Chulalongkorn period
3) Destroy an old trading center
The communities also said they are willing to pay 1.8-2 million baht/ blocks to compensate the landlord for canceling the deal.
On March 9, 2004, Luenrit Community Board asked the Dept of Fine Arts to halt the project until His Majesty can deliver the final verdict whether local people of Soi Luenrit community could stay at the same place.

However, it seems that the Director of the Dept of Fine Arts might be involved with the dirty deal so he yelled at the journalists and the local people of Soi Luenrit to GET OUT of the office.
People around Soi Luenrit Community have made an analysis on this issue and conclude that:
1) Sampheng trade center will worsen traffic.
2) Sampheng trade center will forever change the relationship between traders and customers. Modern retailers have tried to make a deal here but utterly failed to prosper--such as Cathey Department Store, Merry King Wangbborapha, and ATM Department Store.

Those who live in Soi Luenrit for generations know the ways to capture the hearts of customers which modern retailers will never be able to duplicate. Those who are going to run Sampheng Trade Center will never be able to make successful business without the knowledge of local people which they are disregarding now. We will see who will be the winner--the local people who want to preserve local identities or the capitalists who march to destroy the architecture, economy, culture and social system with the disguise of "Development with Conservation" and FAKE culture.

Conservation committee looking into Luenrit case - Bangkok Post, January 21, 2004
...Luenrit Community, which has received a relocation order from the Crown Property Bureau. The bureau has awarded a 30-year lease contract to a developer, Metro Regent, which plans to build an 11-storey shopping centre at the site. However, the plan has faced strong resistance from the community, which wants the area preserved as a national heritage site.
...Metro Regent initially wanted to demolish the old structure, which comprises rows of two-storey shophouses built in the reign of King Chulalongkorn. The developer agreed, however, to revise the blueprint as a compromise to avoid objections from the Fine Arts Department.

Residents say sitework will kill trade - Bangkok Post, October 16, 2003
Residents of Soi Luenrit, who are to be relocated to pave the way for a new shopping centre in the old Chinatown area, yesterday stepped up calls for the right to stay and to conserve their homes, rows of majestic shophouses built in the reign of King Chulalongkorn. The Crown Property Bureau, owner of the 225-unit shophouses, awarded a 30-year development contract to Metro Regent which wants to turn the old garment market into a shopping complex... "We do not want `the Old Siam' development model," one resident said at a hearing yesterday in Chinatown. He referred to the development of Old Siam Plaza, also by the Crown Property Bureau, in the Pahurat area in which residents were kicked out of their homes...

Soi Luenrit to be shopping center - Bangkok Post, September 22, 2003
The old-style architecture in Soi Luenrit, at the intersection of Yaowarat and Chakrawat roads, could soon be torn down for a multi-level mall and parking building... "Luenrit is a trial case. If it becomes a successful project, it would inevitably lead to more projects and more communities being affected in a similar way," he said, referring to the Ratchadamnoen Development Master Plan, which is believed to affect more than 20 original communities in the inner part of the Rattanakosin area. Mr Chuchai said he did not want to see a repeat of the Old Siam Plaza saga, where modern buildings went up to replace historic ones.

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