Thai court orders Bangkok night bazaar closed

BANGKOK (Reuters) - A Thai court has ordered shop owners at Bangkok’s Suan Lum Night Bazaar to pack up and leave one of the city’s most popular tourist spots. The Crown Property Bureau, which owns the land on which the sprawling market of 3,000 shops, restaurants and a Thai puppet theatre sits, said on Tuesday a court issued an order on February 13 for tenants to leave within 30 days.

A woman walks out from Suan Lum Night Bazaar in Bangkok April 28, 2007. A Thai court has ordered shop owners at Bangkok's Suan Lum Night Bazaar to pack up and leave one of the city's most popular tourist spots. REUTERS/Kerek Wongsa

Those who ignore the order to leave the site, at a major intersection close to the main business district, may face “seizure, arrest or imprisonment,” the CPB said in notice printed in Thai newspapers.

“It is the intention of Crown Property Bureau to comply with the court order and to carry out this order as stated,” said the agency, which manages the Thai royal family’s assets.

The large site -- also next to Lumpini Park, the biggest in

central Bangkok, and a subway station -- is a prime piece of real estate in the city, home to 10 million people.

Last year, the CPB signed a long-term lease on a large chunk of the site with mall developer Central Pattana, which may build Bangkok’s tallest building as well a hotel and a shopping mall, according to Thai newspaper reports.

Other developments, including an embassy row, were being considered as well.

However, the CPB had to first wrest control of Suan Lum back from a property company, P Con Development, which was granted a short-term lease on the site of a former military college in 2000. It opened the night bazaar a year later.

P Con refused to leave after the lease expired in 2004 and according to the CPB, ignored lease extensions intended to give the shopkeepers time to leave. The bureau went to court.

On January 30, the Southern Bangkok Civil Court ruled that P Con’s lease had expired and it should quit the site. The developer was not immediately available for comment.

Reporting by Darren Schuettler; Editing by Michael Battye and Alex Richardson