A city of skyscrapers

ONE unmistakable sign of Davao City’s building boom is its rising skyline. The number of skyscrapers  has mushroomed in recent years, part of the burgeoning metropolis’ impressive growth in property development. High-rise buildings include malls, hotels, condominiums, and BPO offices.

For many years, Davao City’s skyline was primarily dominated by hotels- The Grand Regal Hotel, The Royal Mandaya Hotel, the mothballed Durian Hotel, and Apo View Hotel.

Today, the city’s horizon has been in constant change with the continuing development of residential and condominium buildings.  

According to Ivan Chin Cortez, head of the Davao City Planning and Development Office, the first condo in Davao City was the coop building, which was built between 1994 to1995, along Magallanes Street, where the Friendly Care Clinic is located.

City Planning and Development Office (CPDO) head Ivan Cortez

“At that time, the market in Davao and other parts of the country outside metro Manila seemed not yet ready for the concept of condo living and there was not much traffic problem. You can live in the suburban area and work in the central business district with no hassle,” Cortez said in an interview.

The entry of Marco Polo Davao in the late 90’s and that of Grand Regal Hotel much later has totally changed the misconception that buildings cannot go higher than six- stories in Davao City.

Not only that, the opening of SM City Ecoland in 2001 provided the signal to real estate developers that the city is ready for the picking.

“And condo projects came in sprouting,” Cortez said.

Today, Davao City’s skyline looks starkly different from what it was  a decade ago.

The newcomers, mostly residential buildings, are now being overshadowed by the 36-story Vivaldi Residences, which is being dubbed the tallest building in Mindanao.

Before this, the amazing Aoen Towers, 33-floor mixed-use behemoth developed by Aeon Luxe Properties, Inc. near Abreeza Mall in Bajada is expected to hold its grand inauguration. Shortly after Aeon and Vivaldi will be ready for the market, another skyscraper being developed by home-grown developer SantosLand will be completed nearby. Also in this vicinity, several condos are also being built by the Ayala-Floirendo partnership and  Condominium Homes (CoHo), the new brand for condos of the Villar property development firm.

Damosa Land, Inc. first vice president Ricardo “Cary” Lagdameo

 “The Davao skyline has certainly transformed over the last decade from having only a few mid-rise condos and offices to numerous high rise condos, mixed use buildings, offices with unique architecture, high end hotels, and township projects,” said Ricardo “Cary” Lagdameo, first vice president of Damosa Land Inc. (DLI).  

Lagdameo also noted that the developments have really become spread out across the city indicating that there are many pockets of wealth and opportunities across the entire Davao City.

DLI’s six-tower mid-rise condominium project Seawind is nearing completion and is within the developer’s target completion date of 2020. The project, which has the view of the Davao Gulf and Samal Island, will be turning over units in its 5th building this May and have topped off its 6th and last residential building.

“To date, we have about 350 units occupied out of the 1,200 units for the project,” he said.

Suntrust Properties senior assistant vice president-regional sales operation Engr. Leonora Gutierrez

For Engineer Leonora Gutierrez, senior assistant vice president for regional operations of Suntrust Properties, Inc. said the emergence of the office and condominium buildings not only from Megaworld and Suntrust but from other stakeholders as well has changed the skyline of Davao for the past decade.

Suntrust Properties Inc. is developing One Lakeshore Drive, a four-tower development within Megaworld’s master-planned smart township development called Davao Park District. All in all, the four towers will carry 1,200 units and each tower houses 300 units. Each tower has a total of 19 floors with ground floor for commercial component, two floors (one above the commercial and basement) are for the parking, and the 16 floors for residential.

Gutierrez said Tower 1 is expected to be finished by December 2020 while Tower 2 by second quarter of 2021 and Towers 3 and 4 by December 2021.

PRIME Philippines, the leading professional real estate consultancy firm in the country, with 80% market dominance in Davao City, noted that it was in 2017 when Davao City experienced the spotlight with the increasing interest of private investors and top developers, along with other key events that furthered the view on Davao City as a stable, rising Central Business District (CBD).

Large developers such as Ayala, Megaworld, and Cebu Landmasters already have developments in the pipeline, amounting to over 60 hectares of land. Most of the developments are township developments spanning from 1.9 to 25 hectares of land each.

But the boom of the tall buildings in Davao City was also slowed, at least in short-term, because of the series of earthquakes last year.   

PRIME Phils. regional head for VisMin Maria Luisa “Chai” Abaya

Maria Luisa Abaya, regional head for Visayas and Mindanao of Prime Philippines said major damage in some condominium buildings in Davao City caused by the series of earthquakes in October and December last year has dampened demand, but only as short-term.

She said despite events and issues that affect real estate, the outlook for Davao City is still going strong with the continuous inflow of local and international investors.

Abaya cited five reasons why Davao City has become an ideal investment hotspot: it remains to be a competitive destination for the IT-BPO industry, which has dominated the office sector, with 60 percent of occupied spaces in Grades A and B buildings. Some of the BPO companies that are present and expanding in the city include iQor, Skynora, OpenAccess BPO, and VXI.

Another is the proliferation of integrated townships in Davao City continuously serves as a major growth driver of its commercial real estate landscape and there has been an evident increase in the number of large-scale, mixed-use development since 2011 from national and local developers such as Ayala Land, Megaworld, Cebu Landmasters, and Damosa Land.

Other factors that make Davao City attractive are the booming government infrastructure projects, most preferred MICE destinations in the country with over 14,000 total seating capacity, and the promising industrial sector with DoubleDragon and Damosa Land among the players in the warehousing industry in Davao City.

Abaya is optimistic that Davao City’s real estate sector will continue to grow until it becomes the next mega destination in the Philippines in terms of commercial and investment opportunities.

With Davao City’s fond of heights, the city is priming and is well-equipped to develop into one of the main CBDs of the Philippines.