Retrofitting and expansion

Amidst the hiccups and the headwinds, clearly the economy is raring to go back to its pre-pandemic growth path. And clearly, construction sector is one sector that has fueled domestic activities.

The bullishness is best reflected in the movements of the shares of listed property companies. At the height of the UBS take over of Credit Suisse, exactly a couple of months ago to this day, that affected investors’ sentiments at the local bourse with Philippine Stock Exchange index sliding down by 18.70 points, the property sector emerged strong, gaining some 23.31 points while most sectoral indices closed lower.

Here in the metropolis, there is a relative slack in the demand for office spaces due to the work-from-home (WFH) mode. Both private and public offices have adapted the mode of service of mixing face-to-face and WFH.

The WFH has perked-up housing purchases. It’s nearing the “seller’s market,” with heightened interest, from millennials and those who have already eked-in more than enough savings.

In the construction industry, which expanded 5.2 percent in the first quarter of this year, the operative word is expansion, not to mention building new edifices. Famous architect and urban planner Felino Palafox is upbeat, sharing that his architectural firm Palafox Associates is involved in 12 big-ticket projects all over the country.

And heard from the construction sector corridor is that SMDC, the real estate development arm of the Sy family, is cashing in on this positive development by going “full blast” in putting up a presence in strategic areas.

It’s just the right time to open up new ones – both SM malls and high-rise mix use buildings as far as Davao and Zamboanga in the Mindanao region to Cebu in the South and Tuguegarao.

With the going rate or the value of the real estate property in the countryside jumping by 200 percent, heard from the business corridor that a team has already been dispatched to Zamboanga in February to conduct an ocular inspection of the area across the KCC Mall.

And taking advantage of the continuous growth of the Queen City of the South, the SM group is expanding its operations and its reach by putting SMX Arena with a seating capacity of 25,000. This is near Radisson Blu on the side of Mabolo Mandaue area.

Elsewhere in the Visayas region, the SM conglomerate plans to start the construction of National University satellite campus, the first ever outside of Luzon located in Bacolod within this second quarter. Also in the pipeline is the redevelopment – expansion and refurbishing – of SM Mall Bacolod.

Back here in the Metro, Ayala is likewise doing some retrofitting of Greenbelt 1, the oldest of the five segments of the 250,000 square meter Greenbelt mall. The lease contract of the tenants, except for some, ends this June 30. It’s the home of Repertory Philippines since 2002. National Bookstore, an anchor tenant, already closed shop this January. “We’ll be on sale late this month,” a mall tenant tells shoppers.

I believe retrofitting or some fixing may have to be undertaken in Greenbelt 5, which houses boutiques of Filipino designers, high-end department store Adora, and boutiques.  One Sunday, I observed a water leak coming from the second floor walkway of Greenbelt 5. The water was falling like anything. Good thing about it is that the water is clear and odorless.

With all these activities in place and on the pipeline, it is without a doubt that the growth in the construction sector is now going at the same pace if not even better than the rate prior to the pandemic.

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