What Happened To Megaproject ‘Forest City’ In Malaysia?

Alt Futures Staff
Forest City, the Malaysian most ambitious project, pushes toward completion despite its bad reputation and a severe lack of investors.
Forest City, Johor, Photo: Slleong | Wikimedia Commons

Deemed innovative and futuristic, Forest City – a megacity project stretching across four artificial islands in Johor, Malaysia – quickly moved from idyllic to almost eerie.

Forest City has gained massive popularity seven years in the making, but not thanks to its intended paradise. Instead, with only a fraction of sold residential units and a recent splash in the media, the once-touted ideal city is now a “ghost town” with empty skyscrapers.

Despite the controversy, Country Garden – the master developer behind the project – is picking up the pace and aiming for completion by 2035.

Smart And Technology-Driven Paradise

Forest City Phoenix Hotel, Gelang Patah, Johor, Malaysia, Photo: Eldines Hoo | Unsplash

Set on four reclaimed islands, Forest City is envisioned as a future-focused city featuring vertical gardening and a multi-layered mobility system.

It will also have strictly closed-off management, freehold status, and its own immigration department. Smart, green, and eco-friendly, Forest City strives to be a piece of heaven on earth.

Expensive And Unnatainable

Spanning 1,740 hectares and costing $100 billion to develop, calling it “expensive and large” would be an understatement. For comparison, Forest City is as large as the entire Key West in Florida and has a budget that spirals to the yearly GDP of Cuba.

And since the promised cutting-edge technology and ideal environment come with a high price tag that’s unaffordable for the native Malaysians, the project was created with the Chinese market in mind.

Mainly funded by a Chinese company, Forest City was supposed to attract Chinese nationals seeking a second home in Malaysia. But that also hasn’t lived up to the initial expectations.

Thanks to China’s currency control measures and the cap of $50,000 per year for foreign investments, the project quickly came close to a halt. And it finally hit it once the pandemic came!

Not Living Up To The Promises?

Forest City street view, Photo: sukri-samsudin | Wikimedia Commons

Forest City has also been under scrutiny after allegations that the developers don’t follow up on their promises arose. A Chinese woman is even suing them for buying an underdeveloped condo after being promised luxury with added perks.

The management blames it all on the COVID-19 lockdown, which caused the suspension of construction, and promises to be picking up the pace.

However, it will take a while before life is brought to its deserted roads, as visitors call Forest City an “empty, abandoned ghost town.”

What’s Next For Forest City?

At the moment, Forest City is an ambitious project with a bad reputation. Foreign investors are still cautious despite the city’s strategic regional location and proximity to Singapore – only one bridge and 20 minutes away.

On the other hand, Malaysian industries slowly recover from the pandemic, and the Forest City developers claim to have resumed full operation. They also sound optimistic about housing 700,000 residents as they slowly move forward to reach completion in 2035.

But will economic and political impediments further hinder the progress of this enterprising undertaking? Forest City may no longer be stuck in neutral, but it still struggles to pick up speed.

Do you think Forest City will live up to the developer’s vision? Should we write it off immediately? Or should we wait until 2035 and see? Let us know in the comments!


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