You’re now entering Cainta, Rizal and at once you’re caught smack in the middle of the place’s vibrant energy. You hear the endless rumblings of jeepneys and buses plying the busy streets. You’re dazzled by the sight of stores selling all kinds of homemade suman and kakanin (rice cakes), and probably the country’s best native desserts vying for your taste buds (Cainta was once named the bibingka capital of the Philippines). You feel the constant humming of activity in this town that’s one of the oldest municipalities in Luzon and the richest in the country (with total assets of P4 billion in 2017, as per Commission on Audit).
The secondary gateway to the rest of Rizal province from Metro Manila and one of the most urbanized towns with the most idyllic scenery, Cainta surely has high hopes and dreams. And now, here to see that these colossal, towering dreams come to life is Megaworld, the country’s largest developer of integrated townships, with its subsidiary Empire East Land Holdings, Inc..
The young, dynamic Kevin Tan, Megaworld executive vice president and chief strategy officer, is in high spirits as he talks about Megaworld’s 24th township development at a media launch before dashing off to another lunch appointment. He shares, “During the last 30 years, the Megaworld Group has launched 23 township developments across the country. Most of these are in the provincial areas. This concept, which we pioneered way back in 1999, has been a very successful formula in the Philippine real estate industry. This is why we’re flattered to see other developers, even the entry-level ones, following the same formula of building townships. Today, we’re again achieving another milestone as we launch our 24th township. Together with our subsidiary, Empire East Land Holdings, Inc., we are introducing the Empire East Highland City, a 24-hectare township that will be built in Cainta, Rizal. In the next 10 years, Empire East will spend P20B to build Highland City, on a sloped landscape or a highland just across F. Felix Avenue, just between Marcos Highway and Cainta Junction.”
He elaborates, “We’re excited about this new township that will evoke the character of the city sitting on a highland. Empire East will develop around 38 residential towers on the elevated portion of the township (imagine a room with a picture-pretty view). These towers will serve as the dramatic backdrop to the vision of Highland City. Our proposed Highland Mall, under the Megaworld Lifestyle Mall brand, will also be the centerpiece of the development offering 58,000 square meters of retail space which will be integrated with an expansive garden park that opens towards the township’s main entrance. To be called Highland Park, the 8,000-sqm. garden park will also house some retail areas and a beautiful 500-seater church. The park will be elevated, and on both sides will be a six-lane road which will serve as the main entrance to the township. Aside from the six-lane main road, the internal roads will be at least four lanes. Forty percent of the entire township will be dedicated to green and open space (think jogging paths for fitness buffs), another 40 for residential development, while the remaining 20 percent will be lifestyle malls, offices, and other mixed-use developments.”
Highland City is Megaworld’s first joint venture with Empire East and Kevin Tan is happy to announce that they will start the land development of the township by the second quarter of this year.
Highland City will rise on a sloped landscape where a steel mill factory used to stand. “We saw a strong demand for residential products in this area, but most of the properties are already into horizontal developments. With the lack of land in this area, there’s no other way but to go vertical. The demand here is still very strong, with its location close to CBDs, areas of BGC and Makati, so it’s quite an ideal area. There are a lot of infrastructure projects here, the LRT extension on Marcos Highway, and a planned LRT line.”
Indeed, Highland City promises a different kind of high even for the jaded, bleary-eyed, burned-out urbanite.