The busiest businesses these days in Greater Pattaya are the bulldozer and demolition crews as the city’s skyscraper future unfolds more clearly every day. The pandemic created a ghost town image in the city and encouraged land owners to sell out during a recession. Now it is difficult to find anywhere in the popular districts without seeing vast tracts of empty terrain awaiting the necessary rebuilding permits from the Division of Public Works.
Of course, it’s not a new phenomenon. The city’s first high rise, Center Condominium on South Road, opened in 1991, was boosted by foreigners keen to own a unit in their own name. Currently the tallest building in the region is Reflection Jomtien Beach Oceanfront Tower, standing 827 feet tall and completed as early as 2013. And not all developments are majestic condominiums. Over at Mabprachan Lake, a near one million square meter (or 566 rai) medical city is currently under construction thanks to investment by the Eastern Economic Corridor, American universities and others.
Amongst the many developments now in early tow is the private-sector, mega project Aquatic District Pattaya to be wedged between Hard Rock Hotel on Beach Road and Central Festival on Second Road. Five major international hotels are planned there as well as a host of magnet-attractions such as amusement parks and a wellness center, though no opening date has been published. One of many projects now approaching completion is the 500 room mixed-use hotel and condominium block on Second Road opposite Central Festival. It is being promoted as a MICE feature (meetings, incentives, conferences, exhibitions) in accordance with City Hall’s five year plan called BLUE (business, leisure, ultimate experience).
Old Pattaya, the bachelors’ paradise, is shrinking even as the bars and massage parlours that have opened again report a pickup in business: the Covid threat is hopefully diminishing and the immigration bureau is requiring fewer entry documents. Much attention is being paid to the future of Walking Street as an emblem of what Pattaya used to be. No final decisions appear to have been taken, but the profit margins had shrunk dramatically long before coronavirus descended. Parts of Pattaya’s most famous landmark are already derelict or even demolished. The pressures for the resort to move on are becoming irresistible.