Villar to build 2,500-ha ‘city’ in southern Metro Manila | Inquirer Business
Bigger than BGC, Makati CBDs combined

Villar to build 2,500-ha ‘city’ in southern Metro Manila

By: - Business Features Editor / @philbizwatcher
/ 04:04 AM December 06, 2021

Billionaire Manuel Villar Jr. is developing a new central business district (CBD) in southern Metro Manila with an area of as much as 2,500 hectares (ha)— bigger than the CBDs of Makati and Bonifacio Global City (BGC) combined—that bets on increasing consumer affluence as the Philippines emerges out of the COVID-19 pandemic.

In a media chat on Friday, Villar said that in the last 25 to 30 years, he had been accumulating land along the Muntinlupa-Las Piñas-Cavite-Daang Hari corridor and was now finally able to consolidate a sizable landbank suitable for a “one-of-a-kind” European-style urban development.

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“This is my biggest project ever in my life. It’s bigger than Vista [Land] and even bigger than any project I’ve ever done,” Villar said. “This is more like the [legacy] airport project of Ramon Ang.”

The consolidated parcels of land in this future “Villar City” —although the tycoon has yet to finalize the branding—are mostly owned by Villar Land, a privately-owned company, although some are owned by Vista Land. However, he said that as this new project would only have upscale developments, and Villar Land would be the unit in charge.

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Actual landholding is currently at 2,000 hectares but Villar said this would be expandable to 2,500 hectares. With this land area, he estimated that about 1,000 buildings could be built over the long haul.

The new development seeks to harness Villar’s expertise in both real estate and retailing. It will feature some of the premium retail formats that the tycoon developed in recent years. Villar used the lull during this pandemic to develop 21 retail and service formats, ranging from food and beverage, salons, pet care, gadgets and speciality shops, including those that filled the space of his upscale Evia Lifestyle Center.

The tycoon admitted that he had to develop his own retail concepts as it was previously difficult to get tenants for premium malls, such as Evia “They don’t want to pay premium rent, so I decided to put up my own retail concepts,” he said.

With the recent easing of mobility restrictions, Villar reported that Evia had now exceeded prepandemic foot traffic levels.

The new retailing concepts developed by Villar during this pandemic are: Ruined Project, NAPA, San Marco, Roma, Dear Joe, Bread Basket, Sombrero, KAL, No Name, Somo Market, Global Market, Pet Buddy, Pet Cafe, Shieldtech, Green Centrale, AllGreen, Get All, Boston Chicken, Yummy Bakes, Crossing Cafe and AllBikes.

In the past, the tycoon was planning to use his landbank in the south to build mass housing units under the Camella brand. But with the rapid increase in land values amid urbanization in the area, which is adjacent to Ayala Alabang, the tycoon wants to unlock the best value possible by hosting only upscale developments.

To date, only retail developments are up and running in this future CBD. Aside from Evia, Villar has put up Somo Market, a giant outdoor shopping and entertainment complex, and Nomo, a lifestyle center.

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Asked whether Villar Land would tap the stock market for financing, the tycoon said the venture would likely remain privately-held. It’s a legacy he would like to leave to his children, said Villar, who once aspired to be the “CEO of the Philippines” by running for president in 2010.

After the successful stock market debut of AllDay Marts, however, Villar has more initial public offerings in the 2022 pipeline, beginning with an office-oriented real estate investment trust, followed by some new retail offerings.

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