When commercial centers build communities | Inquirer Business

When commercial centers build communities

The mall is arguably the modern center of Philippine culture.

Many Filipinos flock to commercial centers on a regular basis, whether it’s to buy essentials or unwind. While online shopping has become popular in the digital age, many still head to the malls on weekends because they enjoy it. And even amid the COVID-19 pandemic, people help keep malls running by patronizing delivery services or visiting while following safety protocols.


With this kind of mall culture, it’s no wonder why many commercial centers have slowly integrated other kinds of vital spaces into the mix. After all, if people love going to the mall, it makes sense to offer them opportunities to work and live near this modern attraction.

Do these mall-centered developments, however, actually create holistic communities? Is it actually beneficial for us to live in commercial estates which try to provide everything we need around the mall? Let us take a look at some examples from around the world.


The Brickell City Centre in Downtown Miami incorporates green features in a large-scale, mixed-use development.

Brickell City Centre

A $1.05-billion project in downtown Miami, the Brickell City Centre is a gargantuan landmark that encompasses 455,225 sqm in total area. It was developed by the world renowned design firm Arquitectonica for Swire Properties, one of South Florida’s largest real estate developers.

The Brickell City Center started construction in 2012 and opened its first phase to the public in 2016. Currently, it offers retail, residential and office spaces in three high-rise buildings. These structures are known as “EAST,” “Reach” and “Rise.” Additional structures are poised to be built in the near future, including a hotel and several Class A offices.

The remarkable thing about this estate is that despite its size, it manages to deliver healthy offerings. Brickell City Centre is LEED-certified for Neighborhood Development. One of its key sustainability features is the $30-million worth Climate Ribbon—an elevated trellis that will soon connect the estate’s three city blocks, while providing an environmental management system. This also means that the various spaces are easily accessible because of interconnections.

This estate found success among locals. According to the Miami Herald, 80 percent of Brickell’s condominium spaces have gone to local and domestic buyers. Downtown Miami has become the “New Manhattan,” where people can easily go to work, drop off their kids at daycare, and shop to their heart’s content—all in a matter of minutes. It proves to be one of the most successful large-scale developments featuring mixed-use spaces in America.

True North Square focuses on highlighting local talent in its newly opened food hall.

True North Square

Situated in Downtown Winnipeg, Canada, the True North Square is a joint project of James Richardson & Sons and True North Sports & Entertainment (TNSE). Currently, two towers have been built—the first, a privately-developed office building, and the second, a mixed-use residential building with office and retail offerings. Once completed, it will be composed of five towers and a public plaza. The pending structures include a hotel, a condominium and an office building serving Wawanesa Insurance, one of the largest insurance companies of Canada.

While partially finished, True North Square has created much buzz in its local scene due to its exceptional offerings and modern architecture. The first Tower, known as the Scotiabank Tower, is certified LEED Gold. It features approximately 33,900 sqm of office space at the upper floors. The Hargrave Street Market is situated on the second level, featuring local and regional dining spaces. The goal of the food hall is to highlight local talent by prioritizing local chefs and businesses.

The first tower became fully occupied within a year after its completion. It has managed to attract big businesses to the estate due to its speedy construction process and exceptional features. According to Jim Ludlow, president of True North Estate, the goal was not only to build high-rise buildings. The ultimate goal is to create a downtown community.


Capitol Commons in Pasig City features the Estancia Mall which has adjacent residential and office spaces.

The Imperium at Capitol Commons offers exclusivity with its four-units-toa-floor ratio.

An emerging urban community

In the Philippines, numerous mixed-use estates are in progress. Only a few, however, manage to bring together retail, residential and office spaces in an environment that encourages community and culture. Capitol Commons, a brainchild of Ortigas Land, is one such project that does. Situated on the former Rizal Provincial Capitol site, the estate is designed to be self-contained and innovative.

Capitol Commons features the upscale Estancia Mall, which prides itself in being a lifestyle center that carries a variety of international retail brands. The mall is easily accessible from the nearby condominiums: the Imperium, the Royalton, the Maven and the Empress. Each of these residential towers has its own unique character that aims to meet the needs of various urban dwellers. The estate also features numerous work areas located above the mall. In particular, the North and South Wings of Estancia are home to 19,461 sqm of business process outsourcing (BPO) office spaces. This section offers a comfortable environment due to its proximity to the Capitol Commons Park and Estancia Mall.

Overall, Capitol Commons aims to create an urban community with its attention to modern needs and convenient features. It is poised to make Pasig City the next urban hub, by redefining the Filipino commercial estate and turning it into a lifestyle center. By providing the people various offerings in one place, the project makes city living accessible and convenient. More than just a commercial estate, it is a modern community that brings together spaces to serve people’s needs and aspirations.

Elements of success

These examples demonstrate well-designed mixed-use projects that have found success due to their strong attention to what people actually need: remarkable amenities, walkable spaces, accessible transportation hubs and a variety of destinations. What set these projects apart are their human-centered offerings. Despite their large areas, they manage to offer green spaces, rich attractions and effective office spaces that make locals proud.

Beyond creating new real estate, these developments have become beloved landmarks of their cities, elevating the lifestyles of people around them and improving the land value of surrounding communities.

Sources: Brickellcitycentre.com, Miamiherald.com, Fortunebuilders.com, Truenorthsquare.com, Westerninvestor.com

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