The American property billionaire Donald Trump will join in the investment and development of a new luxury retail plaza with Gaysorn Group on the four-rai plot that used to house the Narai Phand handicraft centre in central Bangkok.
An industry source said Mr Trump flew to Bangkok last month to talk with a Gaysorn executive about the site while Charn Srivikorn, director of Gaysorn Holdings, just returned from the United States last week.
''It's likely that Mr Trump will co-invest in this project. He will also co-design this new luxury shopping mall,'' said the source, asking not to be named.
The project at the Ratchaprasong intersection, Bangkok's prime retail site, is intended to compete with two direct rivals nearby, CentralWorld and Siam Paragon.
Mr Trump may buy shares in Gaysorn Land Asset Management Co Ltd (Glam), a joint venture between Gaysorn Group and the Hong Kong property firm Hong Kong Land, by buying stakes from the Hong Kong side.
In July 2008, Mr Trump's eldest son Donald Trump Jr told the Dubai-based daily English-language newspaper Gulf News that ''the Middle East and Asia will provide opportunities for growth in future''.
The executive vice-president of the Trump Organisation viewed Bangkok as one of the emerging markets, saying ''We're looking at a lot of the Pacific rim area. [In] Thailand, we've spent a lot of time looking in Bangkok.''
The portfolio of the Trump Organisation, renowned as an international developer of deluxe properties, includes office buildings, hotels, condominiums, casinos, golf courses and country clubs, mainly in major cities in the US.
It is developing Trump International Hotel & Tower at The Palm Jumeirah in Dubai, launched last year with an average price of US$2,450, equivalent to 905,000 baht per square metre.
According to the property consultant Colliers International Thailand, Gaysorn Group this year bought the Narai Phand site from Phahonyothin Group for a 30-year leasehold.
The company plans to develop three components: retail, serviced apartment with 178 six-star units managed by Starwood, and high-end residences with 30-year leasehold contracts.
Colliers managing director Patima Jeerapaet said the project was expected to be completed in 2010.
In the future, there would be an extension from Gaysorn to Amarin and CentralWorld to provide convenience for shoppers, who are equally divided between Thais and foreigners.
Late last year Gaysorn bought back Amarin Plaza, which had 7.5 years remaining on its leasehold, from Erawan Ratchaprasong Co Ltd at 300 million baht. The saleable area at Amarin Plaza is approximately 26,000 square metres with about 400 shops.
''Gaysorn wants to renovate Amarin Plaza and upgrade it to be a luxury complex,'' Mr Patima said. ''Unfortunately 40% of the tenants still have the remaining lease of 7.5 years so the plan is still pending until the leases expire.''
Besides 26,000 sq m at Amarin Plaza, Gaysorn Group has Gaysorn Plaza, managed by a joint venture with Hong Kong Land, with 12,600 sq m, compared to lettable space of 400,000 sq m at CentralWorld and 250,000 sq m at Siam Paragon.
Gaysorn also plans to develop luxury villas for sale at Cape Paradise on Patong Beach in Phuket, comprising 20 villas priced at around 100 million baht each. The show unit will be finished by the end of the year.
Thai Real Estate