Did you ever see a condo ghost town? You know what I mean; one of those projects that somehow got sideways and never got finished. Some start and stop a few times. Some get near completion. Some actually get finished and then run into some problem with title transfer. Whatever the reason, we still have some condo ghost towns here in Pattaya. It is a sad but true fact of life when you have runaway development and little regulation.
One particularly sad story is not far from where I live in Jomtien. This place showed such promise. It is a well-designed low-rise paradise with plenty of open common space and greenery. The buildings all went up but only a few were actually finished. The whole place sits open-faced exposed to the punishing tropical elements, slowly decaying.
The buyer’s money is lost. The developer skipped town. A beautiful piece of land has turned into a neighborhood eyesore. The property is of no value to anyone. Or is it?
One day I was walking buy and it looked as if someone was planting a garden in front of the privacy wall. After watching this little urban farm grow a little every day, I stopped and talked to the old guy who was busy attending some sunflower plants.
The old fella who lives across the street and owns a raggedy fruit stand/hardware store/motorcycle tire repair/noodle shop has taken matters into his own hands. He told me that he watched this project start and stop three times. He said that they had big plans to plant a lot of beautiful garden and foliage so they dumped tons of high-grade top soil all over the project. The old dude saw no reason for that to go to waste so he started planting vegetables and fruits in the fertile soil to see what would grow.
“So far everything grows” he said. He’s got watermelons, cucumbers, zucchinis, and various types of greens. “Some we sell, some we eat”.
We walked past the entrance of the project and I could see he had been busy preparing the soil for more plants. He was meticulously creating his own little urban farm and doing a nice job at that. The rest of the project looked like a war zone compared to his little slice of reclamation.
“What if the owner gets angry and kicks you out?” I asked. “What owner?” he scowled. “They run away already”. He pulled a very menacing machete out from beside his samlor and said, “Who will kick me out?” I had to admit, he had a point.
On my way home I passed another deserted project. After talking to the old man I think maybe this is the way to go. Turn these neighborhood eyesores into urban green zones suitable for growing fruits, vegetables and flowers. At the very least the property is being taken care of and someone is benefitting from use of the land.
Call them squatters if you like, but I’d prefer it to another ghost town.