Forest City Malaysia: What Happened to the Abandoned $100 Billion Development?

A titanic real estate complex turned ghost town

The Forest City Malaysia real estate complex is not far from the city-state of Singapore. The project for this new city, which aimed to accommodate more than 700,000 inhabitants, involved the construction of a series of tall residential towers rising almost 35 stories. Yet to this day, the ambitious and costly project (totaling $100 billion) has not yet borne fruit.

Forest City  La nouvelle ville qui a cout 100 milliards de dollars est totalement abandonne buildings et gratte ciel

Forest City: the 100 billion-dollar development project that is now totally abandoned

Photo: Koh Sze Kiat/Getty Images

Today, a veritable ghost town, Forest City, designed on an artificial island in the Straits of Johor, is completely abandoned. And deserted streets, silent boulevards, empty stores and apartments are of great concern to the already-financially troubled Chinese developer Country Garden. The 11.5 square-mile city, which was supposed to be a digital and plant paradise, has only attracted 2,000 residents, including a small team of workers who maintain the area. Restrictions linked to the COVID pandemic was what probably deterred buyers from investing in a second home there.

vue lointaine de forest city et de ses building abandonnes en malaise

Longitudinal view of Forest City, an abandoned village in Malaysia.

Photo: Taro Hama @ e-kamakura / Getty Images

Last December, the BBC published an interview with a former resident of the ghost town, who confided that he had “managed to escape.” The 30-something computer engineer had settled in one of Forest City’s tower blocks, in a one-bedroom apartment with a sea view. When he meets the BBC journalist in the tower block where he used to live, he says that “just coming back (gives him) goose bumps.” He confided to the media: “I didn’t care about the deposit or the money, I just wanted to get away.” The young man speaks of his unease at the idea of being in such a city, deserted by any form of life or habitation.

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