‘BGC safest place to invest,’ say experts

By: Tessa R. Salazar, March 9th, 2013 05:42 AM

ACCORDING to experts, Bonifacio Global City is the safest place to invest.

The movements happening in Bonifacio Global City, Taguig’s premier central business district, has captured the Philippine real estate industry’s imagination. In recent years, there has been a tectonic shift in the local and foreign business sectors’ choice of prime location. Property analysts say this may just be the beginning of even grander things for the former army and military camp.

A key event—the opening of the Philippine Stock Exchange at the BGC in 2016—may signal the heightened transfer of more prime international offices and headquarters to this satellite city.

David Leechiu, Jones Lang La Salle country head, told reporters in a Makati presscon March 5, “I have always said for the last six years that Bonifacio is the safest place to invest in real estate. Land prices there are 30 percent higher now than in Makati. The volume of transactions in Bonifacio is 10 times bigger than transactions in Makati. In fact, there hasn’t been an asset traded on Ayala Avenue for the last seven years.”

True-blue CBD

Enrique M. Soriano III, Ateneo program director for real estate and senior adviser for Wong+Bernstein Business Advisory, told Inquirer Feb. 28, “With the P30-billion single-block development that will house the new trading floor of the Philippine Stock Exchange, the presence of a unified trading floor and the entry of more offshore and outsourcing country (O&O) headquarters, BGC will likely hold the distinction as a true-blue central business district.”

Julius Guevara, Colliers International’s associate director for valuation and advisory services as well as consultancy research head, told Inquirer Property late February that “with a steady stream of corporate headquarters and high-value business process outsourcing firms moving into Bonifacio and with the planned transfer of the PSE in the near future, high-end hotel developments will have a captive market of guests for their room and meeting space facilities.”

Leechiu quipped: “Will Makati be emptied out? I don’t think so. Because even if you add all the office space under construction in the next five years, the total office space in Bonifacio will only amount to about 1.1 million square meters. Makati is 3 million sq m, so even if everybody wanted to leave Makati, there won’t be any space (anywhere else).”

Lylah Fronda, JLL associate director for markets, said that “companies that have been to Ortigas and would want to upgrade in better CBDs would probably go to Makati, while companies in Makati will aspire for Bonifacio.”

Last piece of puzzle

Leechiu said many companies with offices in Makati and Ortigas would most likely also find a home in BGC, but what people have been waiting for are hotels.

“Hotels are going to dramatically change the landscape of Bonifacio. It will seal the deal, the last piece of the puzzle to really make BGC the new financial center of the Philippines,” Leechiu said.

Amid the announcement of upscale hotels opening soon, such as the Grand Hyatt Residences and Shangri-La Hotel, Soriano said last week that “BGC will get accustomed to more developments of this magnitude.”

Guevara added that another segment of the hospitality market—The Ascott—is also set to establish a presence in BGC.

“Local real estate powerhouse Ayala Land also opened the doors of its new Seda Hotel, and initial reviews from tourists and traveling businessmen have been glowing,” said Guevara.

Rick Santos, CBRE chair and founder, told Inquirer last week: “We have observed an uptrend in luxury and branded residences in the country. The presence of branded residences is a sign of renewed optimism and strength of the Philippine real estate market.”

Soriano said: “Despite its imperfections, BGC and its luxurious mixed-use and integrated hotel and residential complexes has set the bar in CBD living as it brings together towering and green offices, a row of embassies, international schools and modern conveniences—all accessible and with seamless connection.”

Head to head

Guevara added, “It will actually be interesting to see these different hotel brands compete head to head in BGC in the next few years. At the end of the day, hotel guests and luxury condo investors will benefit from the presence of these hotel giants as they get a taste of world-class hospitality in a bustling, dynamic new city center.”

Soriano said that aside from The Ascott Group of Singapore (the hotel group behind the former Oakwood Premier Hotel located at the Ayala Center, Makati), the Shimao Group, a developer owned by China’s fifth-richest man, Xu Rongmao, will put up a hotel at BGC.

Soriano added that there are also other hotel groups which are “silently” exploring the BGC area.

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