Quezon City, Manila Bay area tagged as next central business districts

Interaksyon by Krista Angela M. Montealegre, 11-26-2014

MANILA - A congested Metro Manila has pushed developers to venture outside the Philippine capital, giving rise to new business districts and special economic zones.

In a briefing today, KMC MAG Group vice president Yves Luethi said property developers are building business parks in provinces outside Metro Manila as such as Cavite, Laguna and Batangas, as well as in areas outside of Luzon -- from Cebu to as far as Davao, Cagayan de Oro and Zamboanga.

An affiliate of Savills, KMC MAG is a real estate services firm.

Within Metro Manila, developers are exploring Quezon City and the Manila Bay area as potential central business districts that could spread out job opportunities, foot traffic and even investments, Luethi added.

"If the Philippines can bring the growth in Manila to other areas within the country and support that with infrastructure, then we see no reason why it wouldn't fulfill its promise of being the next Asian miracle," said KMC MAG managing director Michael McCullough.

The Philippines has become one of the fastest growing economies in Asia. However, experts warned that the economy may be at risk of overheating if the government fails to address infrastructure bottlenecks.

Luethi said Quezon City is showing a lot of promise given its size, the presence of national government agencies, educational institutions, and major broadcasting networks as well as an extensive road railway network. Ayala Land Inc is building a mixed-use project around its Trinoma mall in Quezon City.

Anchored on the government's Entertainment City, the Manila Bay area may be another potential business district. The D.M. Wenceslao Group is putting up such an area named Aseana City between the gaming hub of state-run Philippine Amusement and Gaming Corp (Pagcor) and the SM Mall of Asia.

"Previous investments by the government and the private sector have shown that these areas can grow into central business districts. For both Quezon City and Bay City, it will be critical to provide more public transport options and ensure that social services are in place for these two areas to fully develop," McCullough said.

He noted that spatial planning will be critical to ensuring that new business districts will not suffer from congestion.

"The new business districts will need to move away from building because the demand is there or because the workforce is there, and instead move toward managing the diverse spatial needs of various stakeholders. This may be more difficult, but other cities in Asia have done it and they have a wealth of experience that the Philippines can learn from," McCullough said.

In this regard, the government should invest in infrastructure to improve the transportation network in these urban areas and integrate the different networks around the country, he said.

"The only thing the Philippines needs is the political will to make these large-scale changes possible," he added.