Forest City developer inks deals to boost township growth

A man looks at a map of Malaysia and Singapore inside a showroom at the Country Garden Holdings Co. Forest City Industrialised Building System (IBS) facility in the Iskandar Malaysia zone of Johor Bahru, on Aug 4, 2017.
A man looks at a map of Malaysia and Singapore inside a showroom at the Country Garden Holdings Co. Forest City Industrialised Building System (IBS) facility in the Iskandar Malaysia zone of Johor Bahru, on Aug 4, 2017. PHOTO: BLOOMBERG

The Chinese developer behind mega Johor project Forest City is looking to grow the township in the wake of a more challenging outlook for home sales there.

Country Garden PacificView, a joint venture company between Country Garden Holdings and Esplanade Danga 88, has signed memoranda of understanding with 21 companies in the areas of co-working, medical tourism and telecommunications.

While the project stunned market watchers last year when it sold 16,000 units amid a perceived downturn, Dr Yu Runze, Country Garden PacificView's president and chief strategy officer, told Reuters yesterday that he expected slower sales this year. "It is very clear that with a slowing down in the China market, it will be quite challenging to achieve the same number like last year," said Dr Yu.

The firm announced a myriad of deals spanning several sectors yesterday in a bid to ramp up growth.

It has signed an agreement to work with Foshan Hospital of Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) to establish Foshan's first hospital outside of China, and likely the largest TCM hospital in Malaysia.

It will also collaborate with an agency under Malaysia's Ministry of Health to develop programmes to promote the country as a destination for assisted reproductive health services.

The other companies it signed deals with include Beijing-based co-working space operator Nashwork, Johor-based bird's nest company Glyken Group and Singapore-based adventure training firm Focus Adventure.

Nashwork, which reportedly has at least 97 co-working space locations, will set up its regional headquarters in Forest City, according to Country Garden.

Country Garden, China's third- largest home-builder by sales, has been the subject of controversy since it announced in 2014 that it would reclaim 20 sq km of land. The four artificial islands - to be built near the Tuas Second Link - are expected to eventually house a population of 700,000.

Construction for the township looks to be accelerating, as Country Garden also announced the opening of its Industrialised Building System (IBS) factory in Forest City yesterday.

The factory, purportedly the largest based on single factory production volume, will house the entire production base for the construction of Forest City.

IBS is a construction technique in which components are manufactured in a controlled environment.

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on August 05, 2017, with the headline 'Forest City developer inks deals to boost township growth'. Print Edition | Subscribe