A Chinese real estate tycoon is hoping to rent land in Iceland to build a vast nature retreat after an earlier attempt to buy the property was rejected over concerns about such a large tract going into foreign ownership.
The Zhongkun Group has initial approval from Iceland to rent the 120 square mile (30,640 hectare) property, with a contract likely to be signed in mid-June, Yao Chen, a company spokeswoman, said Monday. “We can’t comment on details as it is not officially set, but we think that it will be very likely for us to settle it this way,” Yao said. “We would like to develop it for tourism, having hotels, parks and racetracks there,” she said, adding that the company hoped to have a 99-year lease.
Huang’s proposed project is viewed by some as a lifeline for Iceland’s struggling economy as it battles back from the collapse of its banking industry in 2008. But the Icelandic government rejected a bid by Zhongkun’s founder, Huang Nubo, to buy the land outright due to restrictions on the purchase of land by foreigners. Huang reportedly complained that the rejection reflected “anti-Chinese” attitudes, saying at the time that he would instead plan projects in other Nordic countries, such as Sweden and Finland, and in the U.S.