Work has finally begun on former massage parlor king and politician Chuwit Kamolvisit’s 56-story development in the heart of Bangkok on the site of a former park.
Barriers have gone up around the former Chuwit Park – a piece of land with a controversial history that saw the former lawmaker sent to prison – where work has begun on Tenth Avenue, a 54-story mixed use project that will be anchored by a five-star hotel.
Described floridly by Chuwit’s development firm Davis Corp. as “an iconic complex” … [o]verlooking the magnificent skyline of Bangkok and Benjakitti Park,” the site spans 6.1 rai, or about 9,800sqm.
Davis says the completed project will include 117,750sqm with retail and office space, a five-star hotel with the capital’s largest infinity pool, and an observation deck on the 54th floor, 230 meters up. Coconuts has reached out to Chuwit for comment.
Chuwit has never been far from the headlines for the past two decades and often plays the part of a maverick truth-teller, most recently by inserting himself into a police scandal involving cops extorting money from a Taiwanese celebrity.
The project’s story begins in 2003, when the land was Sukhumvit Square, a warren of the kind of seedy bars and red light venues that once dominated most of lower Sukhumvit Road. That year, Chuwit, who owned the land, was accused of hiring hundreds of workers to demolish all of it in the dead of night despite their lease agreements.
Eventually, in 2016, he was sent to jail for two years after pleading guilty to criminal damage, trespassing, and false imprisonment. The court cut his sentence from five years because, in 2006, he had turned the land into a public park called Chuvit Garden. He said it was a gift to Bangkok’s park-starved public.
While he was in jail, he locked the park and, upon his release, announced that it had been leased to developer Land and Houses Co. Ltd. to build a mixed-use commercial project.
As for his gift to the people? He said they’d had it long enough.
“It’s time to renovate it. I might build it into something else. And it’s been a long time that it’s been a park, over a decade,” he told reporters. “I went to jail and all that, too.”
But the project hit a snag and in 2019 the park was made the “temporary” home of hipster open-air market Artbox. What was supposed to run a few months turned into a 15-month stint for what became a popular evening destination, until it was abruptly shut down during the pandemic in August 2020.
Sukhumvit Square, now Chuvit Garden, following the demolition of 120+ bars & shops on 26 Jan 2003 #Bangkok pic.twitter.com/04rhx4GKYs— ᒍᑌᔕT ᗰIKE (@_MikeMcKay) October 15, 2015
Chuwit, now 61, was born in Hong Kong and earned an MBA at the University of San Diego in California, where he went by the name Davis Kamol. His firm, Davis, owns six large soapy massage brothels near Ratchadaphisek Road along with several other projects including The Davis Hotel in Soi Sukhumvit 24.
After rising to fame in 2003 by detailing the bribes he’d paid to which cops, Chuwit launched a brazen but failed gubernatorial campaign in which he promoted himself as both anti-corruption outsider and bad boy owner of multiple brothels.
He was elected to parliament in 2005 where he served a year before the Constitutional Court removed him from office. He was elected again in 2011 and served until parliament was dissolved by the army, which staged a coup d’etat in 2014.
In recent years, he has remained a media fixture and hosted several shows.
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