Even in the midst of a pandemic, destinations outside of Metro Manila remain brimming with economic potential.
This is the outlook shared by the country’s largest office developer and landlord, Megaworld Corporation, as the company looks to expand its office portfolio further in its provincial townships in the next five years.
Currently, Megaworld has over 70 office buildings, most of which are PEZA-accredited developments, scattered around some of the country’s most bustling destinations.
Megaworld is looking to add over 100,000 square meters of office spaces in its current portfolio by helping top business process outsourcing (BPO) companies and other multinational firms establish or expand their ventures in various parts of the country. These township locations include Capital Town at the City of San Fernando in Pampanga, Maple Grove at General Trias in Cavite, Iloilo Business Park in Iloilo City, The Upper East in Bacolod City, and Davao Park District in Davao City.
At present, Megaworld’s provincial offices account for roughly 15 percent of its total 1.4 million square meter office portfolio, which is being managed by its office business arm Megaworld Premier Offices (MPO).
Iloilo Business Park, the company’s 72-hectare township in Mandurriao, Iloilo, holds the company’s biggest collection of leasable office spaces outside Metro Manila with about 100,000 square meters spread across nine office towers. The Mactan Newtown at Lapu-Lapu City in Cebu, meanwhile, contributes about 70,000 square meters in the company portfolio from its five existing buildings.
The company’s other remaining leasable office spaces in the provinces include 43,500-square meters for two buildings at Southwoods City in Biñan City, Laguna, and about 27,000 square meters from one building at Davao Park District.
Its townships in Metro Manila still host the largest chunk of leasable office spaces since these locations can host taller office towers with bigger footprints that fit the bigger space requirements of its key tenants and locators.
BUILDING BIG IN VISMIN
Megaworld’s provincial townships are favored by BPO companies for a varietyof reasons.
“BPOs are expanding in the provinces because of cheaper labor, more talent supply, and sufficient room for business expansion compared to crowded areas inside the National Capital Region,” said Roland Tiongson, first vice-president, Megaworld Premier Offices.
Proof of this insight is the success that the company has been enjoying in Iloilo Business Park since the township was launched in 2014.
As of the end of the first quarter this year, Iloilo Business Park has already captured 70 percent of the office market in Iloilo City. All office spaces in the township, which hosts around 20,000 workers, are already 100 percent fully leased out to new and existing locators.
“Iloilo Business Park hosts the newest and most modern central business district in Western Visayas to date. We continue to see a lot of promise in Iloilo even amidst the pandemic, and that’s one of the reasons why Iloilo Business Park remains as our fastest-growing township development in the Visayas,” shared Tiongson.
Despite having just one township in Mindanao—the Davao Park District—Tiongson said that they have a considerable landbank in the promising major cities in the region for future expansion.
Within Davao Park District is the 14-story building catering to Manila-based companies expanding in the premier Mindanao city.
CONTINUING SUCCESS IN METRO MANILA
Megaworld office developments form part of its “tried and tested” live-work-play township development concept, which it first perfected at Eastwood City in Quezon City.
As the Philippines’ first-ever cyberpark, Eastwood City gave birth to the booming BPO sector in the country. Today, it is now home to more than 80 information technology and BPO firms. This includes major companies like IBM, which is now celebrating its 20th year in the township, and Accenture, which also marked its 11th year of being part of the Eastwood City community.
These companies, Tiongson added, love Eastwood because of its strategic location, as well as the safety and convenience it offers their employees. Eastwood City now prides itself in becoming a complete township, having its own church, police station, fire station, medical clinics, fitness centers, supermarkets, and many more.
Megaworld also remains as the largest office lessor in the entire Bonifacio Global City with over 400,000 square meters of office inventory.
Together with the upscale McKinley Hill and McKinley West, the company’s office portfolio now reaches 900,000 square meters— the biggest for a single developer in the entire Fort Bonifacio district.
Uptown Bonifacio alone now has six office towers that account for approximately 330,000 square meters, including the 25-story Worldwide Plaza, which will be the future headquarters of the Philippine Global Service Center of JPMorgan Chase Bank, N.A. A new office tower has also been announced in the pipeline recently, which will add 70,000 square meters more.
Megaworld is also developing offices at Arcovia City in Pasig and Westside City in Parañaque.
GROWTH INSPIRED BY CHALLENGES
Townships can be very tedious where development of wide tracks of contiguous land takes decades and requires huge capital expenditures.
Despite the challenges, Megaworld continues to pursue its dream of building townships with sheer determination and grit.
“Come growth or crisis, we continue to build,” said Tiongson, who recalled that Eastwood started at the height of the Asian Financial Crisis in 1997. “Our Chairman took a gamble at an old textile mill in Quezon City and converted it to a township and presented the idea to the Philippine Economic Zone Authority,” explained Tiongson.
As they say, the rest is history.
‘SUSTAINABILITY’ IS THE FUTURE
True to its vision of pursuing sustainable developments, all of Megaworld’s master-planned communities allocate as much as 60 percent of their area to open and green spaces, including roads.
All its townships have incorporated a healthy lifestyle for locators, workers, and clients.
“Part of our sustainability drive is to encourage people to use bikes to go to office and mall. That’s why we have been incorporating dedicated bike lanes and bike racks in the design of our townships, even long before the pandemic took place,” Tiongson said.
The company first constructed bike lanes in McKinley West, but Megaworld’s townships highlighted its mobility drive with the hosting of the annual Iloilo Bike Festival in Iloilo Business Park.
“We try to create a healthy balance in our development. We make sure we have green spaces to promote wellness in the township,” Tiongson said.
The company’s direction for development outside of Metro Manila is part of its thrust as government’s partner for economic growth.
Every time Megaworld develops a property in the province, progress follows naturally.
“By expanding to the provinces, we create jobs and livelihood opportunities for the people in the countryside. We are also helping in the dispersal of industries and promote development in remote areas,” Tiongson adds.
As the economy recovers from the pandemic, Megaworld’s expansion is expected to fill up demand for office spaces for companies eager to bounce back strong.
“We have equally prioritized the office space market because of continuing demand,” he said.
In fact, despite the pandemic, Megaworld’s office space business in Metro Manila has been very resilient with BPO and IT firms still expanding. Even its provincial projects continue to attract locators during the pandemic.
“We also believe that the economic fundamentals of the country have remained stable and strong,” he said.
This growth will further spill over to the provinces. With its huge footprint in the regions, Megaworld will be ready to fill up demand. “We are ready for another wave of growth in the new normal,” he concluded.