Tired of criticisms that its ubiquitous shopping malls were mere concrete boxes sharing the same blueprint over and over, the SM group decided to show everyone that it is capable of matching the country’s most upscale mall operators with its new SM Aura Premier development.
According to our sources, the high end mall—befitting its high-end location in Bonifacio Global City—cost the SM group a whopping P3.5 billion to build, in contrast to the generic mall designs that cost a fraction of this amount.
Apart from the mall, SM Aura Premier will also host a high-rise office tower whose vertical design visually connects seamlessly with the horizontal design of the retail area (a “waterfall” design, as SM officials call it, created by architect Willy Coscolluela. It will also have an Imax theater, a “Samsung Hall” for exhibits, and a Sky Park, on top of the fact that the entire structure is a certified “green” development by the international environmental accreditation group LEED.
Of course, the very presence of an iconic SM mall in the Ayala-owned Bonifacio Global City did raise eyebrows at the inception phase of the project. This was because the land that the mall stands on was conveyed by the Bases Conversion and Development Authority to the city of Taguig for use as a “civic center.” But then the enterprising Taguig LGU turned around and sought a private party to develop the civic center, and after a public bidding, SM suddenly had a key (albeit leased) beachhead in the valuable, Ayala-controlled BGC area. (And yes, SM Aura will have dedicated spaces for it to meet its duties to Taguig City as a civic center, including allocated space for government offices in its high-rise tower.)
So bring on the competition. Daxim L. Lucas
Speaking of which…
When tycoon Henry Sy’s SM Prime Holdings Inc. opens the group’s 47th shopping mall in the country tomorrow, the mall empire will be bringing in global fashion icon Sarah Jessica Parker as its special guest.
SM Aura Premier, which has 235,000-square meter in gross floor area (GFA), is that new structure not too far from Market! Market! This new mall is intended to be a lifestyle hub, in line with the orientation of Bonifacio Global City.
Parker, best known as the star of the hit TV series “Sex and the City,” is set to cut the ribbon to formally open SM Aura.
SM Prime is expected to end the year with about 6.1 million square meters in GFA for the Philippines alone with 48 malls. SM is likewise expected to open SM City BF Parañaque (114,000 sqm) and the 101,000-sqm expansion of SM Megamall Building D this year. Doris C. Dumlao
Bloomberg’s eye on PH
Yet another indicator that the Philippines is now fully at the center of foreign investors’ radar screens (at least those of “hot money”
investors) is the fact that the head of Bloomberg Markets magazine and its team of reporters flew into town last week to conduct a series of meetings and interviews with key people, including President Aquino.
Bloomberg Markets is a highly regarded finance magazine with a wide circulation overseas, especially among fund managers and traders who constitute the subscriber base of its parent financial news wire service. On top of meeting with the SM group’s head Tessie Sy and Internal Revenue Commissioner Kim Henares, the Bloomberg Markets team also had a 90-minute session with President Aquino in Malacañang, who gallantly kept his appointment despite feeling under the weather.
A minor embarrassment occurred when power went out—Luzon-wide, as it turned out—during the interview at the Palace, highlighting the fact that more needs to be done to improve the business climate in the country.
Assuming that they gathered enough interesting materials from their meetings to write about, it will only be the second time for Philippine concerns to be featured on Bloomberg Markets. The first happened last year when it published an in-depth feature about tycoon Ramon Ang wherein the San Miguel head honcho spoke of his plans, his management style and, of course, his love of cars.
(It was in his interview with Bloomberg Markets that Ang confessed to habitually wearing Seiko Titanium watches, which he would give away right off his wrist whenever someone asked for his timepiece—a more affordable alternative to wearing Swiss watches. Daxim L. Lucas
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