Managing Asia

Developer's towering ambitions for Thailand

Reporting by Christine Tan | Written by See Kit Tang
Pace Development Corporation

Standing at 314 meters, the 77-storey MahaNakhon building in Bangkok's central business district will not just be Thailand's tallest building when completed by year-end.

It will also be a representation of Thai building boss Sorapoj Techakraisri's faith in his homeland's ability to withstand the economic headwinds it faces.

The mixed-use development, which began construction in 2013 and will cost $500 million to erect, has been grabbing attention for its distinctive appearance, designed by renowned German architect Ole Scheeren.

Shaped like a square prism, the skyscraper is encircled by a three-dimensional spiral framed by cubical surfaces. Glass walls lining the mega-tower are divided horizontally and vertically, adding to the building's "pixelated" exterior and increasing the complexity of the construction.

Read MoreBangkok bombing exposes frailty of Thai economy

"It's been very challenging. To create the pixelated view, every floor has to be different so it's an extremely complicated building to build," Techakraisri, CEO of luxury property builder PACE Development Corporation, told CNBC's "Managing Asia."

But the real test for the residential and hotel tower lies in the macroeconomic environment of Thailand.

The Southeast Asian economy expanded 2.8 percent in the April-June period, down from 3 percent in the preceding quarter on the back of weak local demand and exports, according to official data released last month.

And when, later in the day, a bomb exploded at the popular Erawan shrine in central Bangkok, killing 22 people and injuring hundreds more, economists said the deadly blast could take a toll on the one bright spot in Thailand's sputtering economy: tourism.

Following the tragedy, the benchmark SET index fell to its lowest since the start of the year, led down by tourism-related names, while the sank to a six-year low.

Read MoreThai market, baht hammered after Bangkok blast

This Thai builder takes aim at new heights

However, the 37-year-old chief executive remains confident about Thailand's economy.

"There is a short term impact on tourism, but no major impact on the economy. Thailand and its people have a unique ability to move forward despite many economic or political challenges over the years. This uniqueness in the Thai character has contributed to Thailand's rapid economic development over the past 30 years and is the main reason that Thailand remains one of the top destinations in the world for tourism and a hub for regional investment," he said in an e-mail interview done with CNBC after the bombing.

This sense of optimism underscores his sanguine outlook for Thailand's real estate market, particularly in the upmarket property segment.

"To introduce the tallest building and the biggest project at such a time has [many] challenges [but] Thailand is still a growing economy. With the launch of the ASEAN Economic Community, the higher end of the market will continue to grow because there will be many expatriates and foreign companies [who] come to invest and set up their offices here," the scion of the country's prominent Techakraisri family said.

Data from global property consultancy CB Richard Ellis (CBRE) seconded Techakraisri's view.

In a March report, CBRE analysts said the outlook for Bangkok's super-luxury projects remained bright, as factors such as continued demand from a growing middle class and expatriates offset a growing oversupply of condominium units. Around 80,000 high-end apartments are expected to be completed in 2015, the report said.

Further buoying the project is strong interest from overseas buyers such as a Dubai-based business group who invested $27 million in MahaNakhon's Ritz-Carlton branded residences in 2013, according to a report by local media Pattaya Mail.

Sorapoj Techakraisri, CEO of PACE Development Corporation.

Hence, it is little wonder that Techakraisri is banking on the landmark development to lift the real estate company into the black.

PACE posted a consolidated net loss of 474.6 million baht ($13.34 million) for the 3 months through June 30, well above the loss of 79.1 million baht in the same period last year. The premium developer attributed the accelerating losses to the operating costs of local branches it owns of U.S. gourmet food brand Dean & DeLuca and the continued sales and marketing expenses for the MahaNakhon project, as well as other projects such as the building of a 53-storey super-luxury development called Nimit Langsuan in Bangkok.

"We are already 70 percent sold [at MahaNakhon], we kept about 30 percent to sell when the building is actually completed. The economy has recovered from when the project started so we've been able to increase some of the prices ... the company will make very good amount of profits," he told CNBC.

This interview with Sorapoj Techakraisri, CEO of PACE Development Corp., is the fourth of a five-part special series called "Managing Asia: The Next Generation". CNBC's Christine Tan will be speaking to leaders from the second- to fourth generation in Asia, to find out what it takes to transform family businesses to new levels of growth.