Amid concerns of oversupply, Rowsley has other plans for delayed Iskandar project

Artist's impression of Vantage Bay, an integrated development in Johor, Malaysia.
Artist's impression of Vantage Bay, an integrated development in Johor, Malaysia.PHOTO: BEST BLEND SDN BHD

SINGAPORE - Real estate and architecture firm Rowsley announced on Tuesday its plan to convert its Iskandar Malaysia residential project Vantage Bay into a healthcare city.

Dubbed Vantage Bay Healthcare City, the new project will be a RM5 billion (S$1.65 billion) investment comprising specialist and community hospitals, long-term care centres and wellness resort, among other healthcare-themed facilities.

The decision came as concerns of housing oversupply continue to persist in the special economic zone in Johor, where several projects including Vantage Bay are mired in launch delays partly to avoid weak market sentiments.

Speaking to reporters on Tuesday, Rowsley chief executive Lock Wai Han said the company does not really think there is a residential oversupply issue in Iskandar, given the long term growth of economy and population in the area.

Rowsley could have waited for the property market to recover as the 9.23-hectare Vantage Bay site is freehold and the company hasn't incurred any debt when acquiring the land, Mr Lock said. The land was acquired via share issuance.

But the management has decided not to fight the market sentiments, he noted, adding that the healthcare city will be positioned to tap rising demographic demand for healthcare services as populations in Singapore and Malaysia continue age.

A key component of Vantage Bay Healthcare City is the adjacent Thomson Iskandar hospital project by Thomson Medical. Rowsley is currently exploring options to create synergy between the two projects, including developing extension facilities for Thomson Iskandar in the Vantage Bay site.

Both projects are linked to Singapore billionaire Mr Peter Lim, who is the owner of Thomson Medical and also a shareholder of Rowsley.

The development of the entire Vantage Bay Healthcare City may take over a decade depending on market conditions, Mr Lock said, but first construction is likely to start within three years.