A 24 billion yuan (S$4.9 billion) project by one of Singapore's largest real estate developers is set to be completed by 2019 in fast-growing Chongqing, primed as a gateway to China's vast western region.
CapitaLand president and group chief executive Lim Ming Yan said on Thursday that his company's project is on track and has kept within budget. The first residential units will be put on the market by the end of this year, and the property giant is also gearing up for pre-leasing of mall spaces next year, and office spaces in 2018.
Mr Lim said: "With the strategic location and Chongqing's market size, we believe there will be a lot of interest."
CapitaLand's Raffles City Chongqing commercial and residential complex is the largest single investment by a Singapore company in China, and will open amid growing collaboration between both countries in the south-western Chinese city.
Chongqing is where both countries have embarked on the newest Singapore-China government-led project, the Chongqing Connectivity Initiative (CCI).
Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong, who will visit the city today, will visit the Raffles City Chongqing site.
The complex is located in Chaotianmen district, which sits on the confluence of the Yangtze and Jia- ling rivers, and will be served by a train line and a ferry terminal.
Designed by architect Moshe Safdie, who designed the Marina Bay Sands, the eight towers of the development will be built by the water's edge and will feature a modern take on the traditional diaojiaolou, or stilted buildings, that are supported on one end by wooden columns. But instead of wooden stilts, Raffles City Chongqing will have six "suspended" levels of retail spaces.
Construction has started on seven of the eight towers and the development is expected to be fully completed by the third quarter of 2019, said Mr Lim.
For now, about 9,000 foreign expatriates are based in Chongqing, compared to about 200,000 in the busier cities of Beijing and Shanghai, and Mr Lim says attracting more people to the city will be an uphill task. But he saw promise in the CCI and the recent announcement of Chongqing as a free trade zone.
The Singapore Business Federation (SBF), which is leading a delegation to the city during PM Lee's visit, said Chongqing's status as a free trade zone, plus its location along the sea and land routes under Chinese President Xi Jinping's "One Belt, One Road" strategy, makes it an ideal place for businesses. The strategy aims to revive two ancient trade routes that will connect 65 countries over three continents.
SBF chairman Teo Siong Seng said: "We must move quickly to seize opportunities."