Indian developer Dewan makes no attempt to hide its ambition.
“Dewan is re-building the entire city beach,” the company has said of its US$2.63 billion project in the tourist city Nha Trang, approved last October and expected to complete in 2020.
The website of the Phoenix Beach Project says it includes a boardwalk, a luxury apartment building of 50,000 square meters and a hotel-shopping mall complex of over 10,000 square meters.
The whole project will stretch over 4.3 kilometers along one of the most popular beaches in Vietnam.
According to media reports, the idea that the massive development plans to change the face of their town has set many locals on edge.
Some are complaining about a series of notice boards set up recently along the beach, asking them to stay away with a few cold words: “Trespass prohibited by law.”
Le Thi Lan Anh, a local, was angry. “How on earth does the investor have the right to keep people away from the beach?” she told Nguoi Lao Dong.
At first Nha Trang officials removed all 11 boards after some locals expressed anger, but Khanh Hoa Province later issued a statement and brought them back.
Nguyen Thanh Binh, another local, said the public beach is being privatized and “becoming exclusive to people with money.”
Dewan is also the developer behind various property projects in the province.
'Public opposition won’t change anything'
Nguyen Van Loc, former director of Khanh Hoa’s Construction Department and chairman of the province’s architecture association, said the province asked his association to review and critique the project as part of the procedure to grant investment licenses.
“We strongly objected to it as it will affect the scenes and the natural environment in the area.
“But it’s actually already a done deal. Public opposition won’t change anything,” he said, cited by Lao Dong.
Nguyen Chien Thang, chairman of Khanh Hoa, said their approval of the project has received support from the tourism ministry and the National Heritage Council.
The project is just part of the wave of construction hitting Nha Trang in recent years.
The city main road’s Tran Phu now hosts a Sheraton hotel of 33 stories, a hotel and apartment building of 29 stories, the Best Western Premier-Havana Nha Trang of 41 stories.
It is waiting for four more mix developments of between 17 and 50 stories and several dozens of meters from each other.
The development overkill sent Nha Trang to the bottom of National Geographic's annual ratings for the worst beach destinations in the world in November 2010.
The list was decided by an independent panel of experts in historic preservation, sustainable tourism, travel writing and archeology.
One anonymous panelist said the town was “fast becoming ruined by rampant commercial development.”
“The once nice beaches are packed hotels and bars. I would not return,” the expert said.