Depending on whom you ask, Bangkok’s central business district can actually be one of numerous locations across the city. From the days when the Chao Phraya River and the city’s intricate canal network provided much of the infrastructure for commerce, to an era when residents and visitors had few alternatives to spending much of their day stuck in the notorious road traffic, the biggest influence on how the city works these days is the mass transit infrastructure, BTS skytrain and MRT underground. As a result, rather than having a single commercial heart, the city is evolving around key nodes with a blend of high density office, retail, hospitality and residential developments clustering in these areas.
Coinciding with the launch of a high profile residential project, five business groups will collaborate to establish “Ploenchit City”, a new central business district between the Chidlom and Ploenchit BTS stations. The area already offers its fair share of office, retail, hotel and residential space, but new development includes the Park Ventures office/hotel complex, Central Embassy and Park Hyatt hotel, and the Noble Ploenchit condominium development. The group expects traffic to rise from the current level of 50,000 people per day to over 200,000 by 2016.
The initiative could shift some of the momentum built up by development around the Asoke-Sukhumvit intersection over the past couple of years. The relocation of Citibank to the recently completed Interchange 21 at the Asoke-Sukhumvit intersection highlights a shift towards density being realized at these infrastructure nodes. Also at the Asoke-Sukhumvit intersection, Exchange Tower completed in 2006 was one of the first office buildings to link directly with a BTS station. Meanwhile, the completion of Terminal 21 at the end of this year will be the first major retail center linking to the Asoke-Sukhumvit BTS sky-train and underground MRT stations.
And despite these recent developments, the Chong Nonsi intersection, at Sathorn and Narathiwat Roads, still offers the largest amount of grade A office space. The Bangkok Metropolitan Authority recently completed construction of the platform over the intersection which allows easy pedestrian access between the BTS and Bangkok Rapid Transit stations as well as the many high quality buildings in the area. The recently completed Sathorn Square office building, built in conjunction with Bangkok’s soon to be first W Hotel has further raised the profile of this already prominent intersection.
In all these areas, individual commercial developments are less able to stand alone on their own and are increasingly reliant on integration with the infrastructure and other buildings in the area. Other key mass transit locations also comprise high density commercial and residential offerings, and new development plans are already entering the pipeline. As these nodes evolve and attracting traffic becomes increasingly competitive, we can expect to see more collaboration among landlords and developers promoting their area as the best commercial zone in Bangkok.
About the author
Dan Tantisunthorn is the Head of Research for Jones Lang LaSalle in Thailand.