The country’s conglomerates are ramping up the construction of their projects in Quezon City, creating a property boom ahead of the completion of two big infrastructure systems in the northern side of Metro Manila.
San Miguel Corp., Ayala Corp. and SM Investments Corp. are playing key roles in the redevelopment of Quezon City, with Bloomberry Resorts Corp. of tycoon Enrique “Ricky” Razon Jr. branching out his casino business to the very heart of the former capital city.
The SM Group was the first to develop the area at the corner of North Ave. and EDSA with the construction of its first megamall in the country in 1986—the SM North. The group of retail tycoon Henry Sy Sr. subsequently acquired the adjacent five-hectare Camp Bago Bantay in 2004 from the Bases Conversion Development Authority for P695 million and built condominium towers over the former military camp.
Ayala through unit Ayala Land Inc. constructed its own mall—Trinoma Mall—right across SM North a decade ago. The property company is now developing the Vertis North project, a 45-hectare master planned development in the North Triangle property that includes Trinoma Mall.
Ayala Land is investing P65 billion over a 10-year period to transform the property into a mixed-use development with residential, shopping, retail, office and hotel components.
The two rival property companies are soon to join forces in building a common station for light rail passengers between their malls to resolve the dispute over the location of the project.
Common rail station
“The current status [is] we have certain agreement more or less where it would be [located]. It’s a real common area now… not exactly one station, but much much closer to each other,” says SM Prime Holdings Inc. president Hans Sy. “It’s a better solution for everyone. It’s good for them [Ayala], good for us. It’s like compromise. It goes to show how sincere we are in just one thing good for the country,” he said.
The common station aims to serve Metro Rail Transit Line 3, Light Rail Transit Line 1 and the proposed MRT 7 of San Miguel.
The compromise emerged after the Transportation Department earlier said it would pursue two common stations, one near SM North Edsa and the other beside Trinoma Mall.
The idea did not sit well with the SM Group, which secured a Supreme Court stay order, barring the department from transferring the location of the common station to Trinoma Mall.
The construction of the common station around the area is expected to create additional commercial spaces and make the Quezon City corridor a major transportation hub.
The common station itself will become a money-making venture, especially with the completion of MRT-7.
San Miguel last week broke ground on the P69.3-billion mass rail transit system from Quezon City to Bulacan province, eight years after the original proposal was presented to the government.
“We are ready to start the construction of MRT 7,” San Miguel president and chief operating officer Ramon Ang said during the groundbreaking ceremony at the Quezon City Memorial Circle.
MRT-7, a 23-kilometer elevated railway from North Avenue, Quezon City to San Jose del Monte in Bulacan with 14 stations, is expected to be completed in three or four years.
MRT-7 aims to reduce travel time from North Ave. to San Jose del Monte in just 30 minutes from the current two-hour travel time.
Ayala Land’s Altaraza Town Center in Barangay Tungkong Mangga, San Jose del Monte, is expected to benefit from the new railway system. Ayala Land is spending P6.8 billion over the next five years to develop the 100-hectare property into a new town center.
San Miguel, through unit Citra Central Expressway Corp., is also completing the P26.7-billion Skyway Stage 3 project, a 14.8-kilometer, six-lane elevated expressway from Buendia to Balintawak that will link South Luzon Expressway to North Luzon Expressway.
New casino in town
Resort and casino developer Bloomberry, meanwhile, will develop a 1.5-hectare property in Quezon City into a mixed-use development with a hotel and casino.
Razon’s move to put up a casino within Ayala Land’s Vertis North puzzled many property analysts. But Razon apparently knew that the casino will lure several rich Chinese businessmen from nearby Caloocan City and Valenzuela City.
Razon, chairman of chief executive of Bloomberry, said the development of the property would be “similar to Solaire Resorts & Casino” in Pagcor Entertainment City in Parañaque.
“We will probably start developing that property next year. It will be a mixed-use development similar to Solaire with hotel and casino,” says Razon.
Surestre Properties Inc., the hotel and resort development arm of Bloomberry, acquired a 15,676-square-meter lot (1.56 hectares) within Vertis North in Quezon City for P1.97 billion last year.
The lot was part of National Housing Authority’s share in the joint venture between the government housing agency and property developer Ayala Land in the Vertis North project.
Sureste bagged the property after submitting a negotiated offer, which was then accepted by the NHA, after two failed bids where the Bloomberry unit was the lone bidder.