Charity, strategy and evolution
MQDC is working on pushing people and the economy past the pandemic
published : 20 May 2020 at 04:10
newspaper section: Business
writer: William Hicks
In response to the multifaceted crisis facing the nation, property development firm Magnolia Quality Development Corporation (MQDC) has launched numerous charity programmes providing relief to the poor, while pushing ahead with an ambitious array of development projects.
The company, along with parent group DTGO Corporation, has allocated 50 million baht to help pandemic victims.
"As part of the DTGO group, MQDC has always dedicated 2% of its top-line revenue to societal and environmental initiatives," said Visit Malaisirirat, chief executive of MQDC. "During this outbreak, the company has been involved in a host of programmes both through our own teams and through our parent group.
"During the crisis, MQDC has invested about 50 million baht in helping people and communities. Project teams such as Mulberry Grove Sukhumvit and One.Six Development, our joint venture partner in The Strand Thonglor, have applied their local knowledge in helping people hit by the lockdown in Bangkok."
An important facet to MQDC's charity is keeping people fed during the crisis. Under its Food for Hope programme, the company provides 140 lunch boxes a day to unemployed people in Thong Lor and Klong Toey. The "Monk Food Sharing Project" provides breakfast and lunch at Samphanthawong Temple, Wat Moli Lokyaram Ratchaworawihan and Rama IX Temple.
The company is also working with the Dhanin Tawee Chearavanont Foundation and Buddharaksa Foundation to help communities and provide protective equipment to at-risk professionals like front-line medical staff.
From left Paweena Chittinan, executive vice-president for property business development at MQDC; Naree Phinyawatana, director of Atelier Ten; Kittiphun Ouiyamaphun, senior vice-president for The Forestias; Assada Kaeokhiao, president of Whizdom; Thippaporn Ahriyavraromp, chairwoman of MQDC; Kecha Thirakomen, president of EEC-DT Green Power; Keerin Chutumstid, president of property and services at MQDC; and Amnart Lertprasertwong, vice-president of Whizdom.
FOREST IN THE CITY
The environmental health of the city is a major consideration for the company. One of MQDC's most innovative development projects, The Forestias, aims to change the relationship between property development and nature, while providing work for the poor in planting trees.
"Our flagship project, The Forestias, meanwhile, just launched 'Forest for Life', which is helping community members who become jobless during the pandemic by having them arrange nursery gardens for forest plants. They will receive 15,000 baht per family within three months," Mr Visit said.
The massive mixed-use development project will consist of 45% green space in outer Bangkok.
"Green areas are also key to improving air quality, which is one of the many benefits for well-being we anticipate from The Forestias, a 398-rai green district we are developing in Bang Na," Mr Visit said. "Under our strategy of 'sustainnovation', we are finding technological solutions that can reduce power generation, traffic and resource consumption at the site.
"The Forestias, for instance, will have innovative high-efficiency utilities, a smart grid and green transport that will work alongside the forest ecosystem to keep the air healthy."
From right Keerin Chutumstid, MQDC president; Attapol Charoenchansa, director-general of the Royal Forest Department; Wit Soontaranun, vice-chairman of the Buddharaksa Foundation; Kittiphun Ouiyamaphun, the project's senior vice-president; and Surin Warachun, an ecologist.
THE FUTURE OF PROPERTY
Despite the massive uncertainty generated by the pandemic, MQDC is confident that its projects will meet the needs of the city in the coming years. The company is optimistic that the sector will weather the storm and keep projects going in the pipeline unabated.
"In the short term, the outbreak is slowing decisions to buy and speeding up new technologies such as video calls and virtual tours," Mr Visit said. Sales channels have also changed, putting a greater emphasis on direct contact and referral programmes.
"For the longer term, there will be market changes in many directions. In some countries, for example, people are turning to property as a relatively straightforward form of investment. The crisis will also alter what buyers look for. MQDC's FutureTales Lab, Asean's first private-sector futurology centre, has been exploring some of the outbreak's implications."
MQDC will soon announce new projects, but currently it's developing a number of properties, including The Forestias, Mulberry Grove (Villas and Condominiums), The Aspen Tree and Six Senses Residences. The company is also constructing a joint venture project, The Strand Thonglor, and Mulberry Grove Sukhumvit at Ekamai.
The company is also preparing for a future where the sector could be disrupted by changes made to accommodate the "new normal".
The new norm will be largely a continuation of the trends that MQDC is already helping drive, such as a focus on well-being, to which MQDC is committed under its dedication to "For All Well-Being", said Mr Visit.
"The outbreak and lockdown has, in many ways, reminded people of what really matters in life, which has always been at the core of MQDC," he said. "For real estate, some of the specific changes we expect have been explored by our FutureTales Lab research hub. Some of the significant trends include, for instance, a higher priority for space over a central location."
Mulberry Grove features interconnected villa clusters to nurture intergeneration living community.
The company is following existing trends in the property sector and new ones that have come about in the past few months from the quarantine and lockdown. Property buyers are looking inward, worrying that they may be spending more time indoors in the coming years, making a home purchase all the more important.
"An interesting example of how the crisis is accelerating trends already under way is in 'intergenerational' living," Mr Visit said. "MQDC is pioneering intergenerational living with its brand Mulberry Grove, dedicated to reviving multi-generational living in extended families. Our research found this need and desire in Thailand. The outbreak is set to further drive this trend as families further recognise the value of living together with older relatives.
"For MQDC, the new normal will involve becoming agile and responsive within a changing context while prioritising the safety, security and well-being of our stakeholders and the community."
RESILIENCE AMID CRISIS
To respond to the economy contracting, MQDC has made some minor changes in its business plan and postponed some projects. But it has full faith in its flagships and the overall health of the property market moving forward.
"We will adjust our operations to ensure continuity and respond to uncertainties," Mr Visit said. "We will put in place various measures, structures and systems to ensure the safety and security of our employees, tenants and relevant stakeholders. Our major projects will continue as planned. Some project timelines are likely to alter. We will announce changes as soon as we have full information to share."
He said the company will focus on real demand and apply a unique approach to meet the environmental and social needs of the country. While there will be many hardships for both the private sector and the nation, Mr Visit remains confident that solutions will be found for the multitude of problems.
"Resilience is a key feature in our projects already, and that will remain at the forefront," he said. "We anticipate that our project The Forestias will assume added significance for the market with the shift towards home working creating greater emphasis on space and quality of life."