EEC’s ‘smart city’ capital takes shape in Si Racha
Known for its industry and Laem Chabang seaport, Si Racha in Chonburi province is set to be upgraded as the “smart” city hub of the Eastern Economic Corridor (EEC).
Developers boast that the Sriracha Creative District will run on 100 per cent renewable energy to become Asia’s first carbon-neutral smart city.
Meesak Chunharuckchot, chief executive of Chonburi-based Life and Living Co, said it is currently pushing to develop 600 rai near the motorway into a mixed-use smart city comprising commercial, residential, office, university and green spaces as the new business hub of the government’s EEC infrastructure project.
The four-pronged plan features smart mobility for a pedestrian city and reduced car use, eco-friendly technology, reusable energy, and high safety standards.
Life and Living has reached an agreement with Hong Kong’s Ho & Partners architects to design the Sriracha Creative District, under cooperation with the Hong Kong Trade Development Council (HKTDC). The Bt1-billion budget will cover construction of buildings but not infrastructure.
The smart city should ease the way for more foreign investment in the EEC via tax breaks and 99-year leases allowed by the Eastern Special Development Zone Act (2018). The Board of Investment (BOI) is offering the investment privileges to foreign companies who set up international headquarters in Thailand.
The smart city is expected to become a magnet for Chinese and other foreign companies seeking to escape the US-China tariff war and political developments in Hong Kong.
However, Meesak said foreign investors still want to see more tax breaks before they invest.
He urged the BOI to discuss easing capital and foreign currency flows in the EEC with the Bank of Thailand (BOT), adding that the 49-per-cent condominium ownership rule for foreigners should be relaxed in the EEC to allow 100-per-cent foreign ownership.
Life and Living expects it will take about 20 years to construct the smart city, with support from government for infrastructure. The company is eyeing “green” bonds as a way of raising funds for the project.