Gamuda Land, the property development arm of Malaysia- listed engineering, construction and infrastructure firm Gamuda Bhd, ventured into Vietnam 10 years ago. It set up an office in the capital, Hanoi, in 2007. Its aim was to conduct feasibility studies and look for suitable development land in both Hanoi and Ho Chi Minh City, the country’s largest city.

“We looked at the market and realised that it was fast-growing,” recounts Chow Chee Fan, general director of Gamuda Land Vietnam. “Back then, there were few township developments in Vietnam.” Hence, Gamuda Land saw the opportunity to develop integrated lifestyle projects there.

By then, Gamuda Land had cemented its reputation as a developer of award-winning integrated developments and townships in Malaysia. Established in 1995, Gamuda Land’s flagship development in Malaysia was Kota Kemuning, a 1,854-acre integrated township in Shah Alam. Built 20 years ago, Kota Kemuning was famous for its 22-acre Central Lake and the Kota Permai Golf and Country Club.

Chow: We looked at the market and realised that it was fast-growing

Its success was followed by two more townships in Selangor, the 1,200- acre Bandar Botanic in Klang, and the 280-acre Valencia in Sungai Buloh. In 2005, Gamuda ventured into Iskandar Malaysia and developed Horizon Hills, a 1,200-acre gated development with an 18-hole championship golf course and luxury homes overlooking the golf course.

US$2.5 billion Gamuda City

Gamuda Land’s maiden township project in Vietnam is the US$2.5 billion master-planned development called Gamuda City, which sits on a sprawling 172ha site — equivalent to the size of Sentosa Island.

Located just 6km from Hanoi’s old CBD, Gamuda City, which will be developed in phases, has five precincts: Gamuda Gardens, Gamuda Central, Gamuda Plaza, Gamuda Lakes and Yen So Park.

The highlight of Gamuda City is Yen So Park, which is completed andopen to public

Lush greenery, parks and lakes are a hallmark of all Gamuda Land’s projects, says Chow. “We believe in investing in landscaping, and creating parks and lakes within our township developments.”

For instance, the highlight of Gamuda City is Yen So Park, a landscaped park with five picturesque lakes. It is completed and accessible to the public. “It’s the biggest park of its kind in Hanoi,” says Chow. “And it’s an ideal venue for promoting cultural and community events that draw people and open up business and tourism opportunities in South Hanoi.”

‘Holistic lifestyle’

The first phase of Gamuda City is Gamuda Gardens, a 78ha integrated lifestyle development. The first phase of landed homes comprising 364 three-storey terraced and semidetached houses was launched in 2012. The houses were completed in 2014 and handed over to the owners.

The first phase of Gamuda Gardens, comprising 364 landed houses, was completed and handed over in 2014

Last month, Gamuda Land launched its apartment development, The ZEN Residence, at Gamuda Gardens. An initial phase of 123 units were released and 35% of them were snapped up within two weeks.

When completed, The ZEN Residence will have three towers and a total of 927 units. The apartments range from studios to three- bedroom units and penthouses. The towers will also feature rooftop gardens, a child ren’s playground on the fifth-level deck, and retail shops on the first level for the convenience of the residents.

The ZEN Residence consists of three towers with a total of 927 units

Another draw for families with children is the schools located within Gamuda Gardens. Singapore International School @ Gamuda Gardens, a purpose-built campus on a 2.3ha site, opened in August 2015. Kindergartens located with the development include IQ Montessori, Little Maple and Blossom @ Gamuda Gardens.

“Our township contains a wellbalanced mix of residential and commercial developments supported by essential amenities, as well as a network of expressways,” says Chow. “All these elements within an innovative master plan ensure residents get to enjoy a holistic lifestyle.”

Located within the Gamuda City Central precinct is LePARC, a 20,000 sq m mixed-use complex completed at end-2016. It comprises 56 shophouses set around a waterfront promenade beside Yen So Park, with shopping, F&B, entertainment and leisure components. The concept for LePARC, “a riverside festival village”, is based on Singapore’s Clarke Quay, says Chow.

LePARC comprises 56 shop houses set around a waterfront promenade beside Yen So Park.

Gamuda Land plans to launch another 3,000 apartments within Gamuda City by 2019. The group is currently negotiating with prospective partners for future phases of the township development, says Chow.

Ho Chi Minh City flagship

Gamuda’s second project in Vietnam, and its flagship development in Ho Chi Minh City, is Celadon City. The integrated development sits on an 82ha site. Its key feature is a 40-acre Central Park — the largest private park in the city — which has 2,000 mature trees and three lakes. Apartments at Celadon City will be set around the park so residents can enjoy views of the greenery and the lakes.

Celadon City was designed as a self-contained township, says Chow. It has a shopping mall, a 13.4-acre Celadon City Sports Centre and other amenities within a 10-minute walk of the apartments. When completed, it will have 6,000 apartments.

Celadon City has the added distinction of being the first township project in Vietnam to have received Conquas certification from Singapore’s Building and Construction Authority. The Construction Quality Assessment System, introduced in Singapore in 1989, serves as a standard measure of the quality of building projects.

Celadon City was developed in a joint venture with Vietnamese developers Saigon Thuong Tin Real Estate and Thanh Thang Duong. Gamuda Land had acquired a 60% stake in the project for US$82.8 million in March 2010. In June 2015, it bought the remaining 40% stake from its Vietnamese JV partners for US$64.1 million, giving it full ownership of the project.

To date, 900 units at Celadon City have been completed and handed over to the homebuyers. Another 1,000 units are under construction and almost fully sold. Gamuda Land intends to launch a new phase of 300 apartments next month.

A testament to Gamuda’s success, says Chow, is that 20% of the foreign buyers of its projects in Viet nam are Malaysians.

This article appeared in The Edge Property Pullout, Issue 778 (May 8, 2017) of The Edge Singapore.