The Junction Place: Ayala Land’s pocket urban district in QC

Quezon City, Metro Manila’s biggest city in terms of population and land area — it is 166.2 square kilometers to Manila’s 38.5 and Makati’s 27.36 — is getting a much needed breathing space in one of its most populous districts with Ayala Land’s new pocket urban development called The Junction Place.

Quirino Highway and Tandang Sora Avenue, that crossroad filled to the brim with residential, small and medium enterprises, overladen roads going north of Luzon, can be frenzied all day, every day. For people who live in Quezon City, that’s a normal day. I would know — I lived most of my adult life in QC (in Sta. Mesa Heights and Tandang Sora). I knew the city’s heartbeat, I knew that what made Quezon City so lively and enjoyable for its economically diverse residents also made it overwhelming for many. Some of the things I missed most when I moved to the south were the very same things that made me leave Quezon City: the density, the abundance of leisure and commercial offerings resulting in chaos which, in fairness, seemed to be organized because everything sorted itself out at the end of the day.

The commercial district in this mixed-used pocket urban development caters to neighboring communities as well.

This is the location of the 11-hectare The Junction Place, the 28th estate developed by Ayala Land. Two of the company’s old hands are on top of its development — ALI vice president Manny Blas leads ALI’s Makati, BGC developments, while estate head Stephen Comia previously worked on Nuvali. Both are also heading the development of Arca South.

For both men, working on a pocket development in Novaliches is a deeply fulfilling task.

The Junction Place along Quirino Highway

Stephen says, “We’re creating an impact on the community by uplifting the lives of people and creating opportunities that can help them grow. It’s a breath of fresh air in this area because everything here is very dense. If we’re able to create open spaces that they can enjoy, then that’s very fulfilling for us. We’re not just about developing luxury condos or huge developments, we want to appeal to a broader market, to be more inclusive. This may be a pocket development but we’re applying the same expertise that we do when planning the large estates and we’re delivering the same quality.”

Manny, who heads several projects with ALI’s estate group, has seen the impact of building in the thousands of hectares, and says to never underestimate the “power of small” — or 11 hectares in this case. He likens Junction Place to “small changes, small interventions that create a positive chain reaction” that will impact a greater number of people.

The Junction Place will have residential, commercial and recreational elements that fit the needs of the community.

Acknowledging that small enterprises populate Novaliches, he says, “Our goal is to gentrify and transform the area, where even the neighboring communities will feel that something has changed for the better. There is a small nail polish shop right along the entrance and my goal is for the owner to look at Junction Place and say, ‘I think it’s time that I moved there because my business is strong and I can be stronger inside that place.”

QC today has a population of above three million (it was 2.9 at the 2015 census) and where The Juction Place is has a mix of trade areas, homes, schools, markets, retail, and hospitals with about 15 percent of the city’s population either living or working there.

At the heart of The Junction Place is a community center that integrates retail, dining, and service options with activity nodes for community fairs and events.

The Junction Place will have residential, commercial and recreational elements that fit the needs of the community. ALI subsidiary Amaia Land, known for building quality and affordable homes, will develop the residential component that is located near the Tandang Sora Avenue exit.

“We’re creating a comfortable and refreshing new neighborhood that will connect people to other hubs in Quezon City and beyond. At the same time, The Junction Place will be a refreshing area for shopping and dining, and affordable products and services will be available for everyday needs. It will also provide a great platform for homegrown, small and medium enterprises with its urban location,” Stephen Comia says.

The Junction Place is envisioned as a meeting space with refreshing green spaces, a welcome addition to this part of the city.

With the completion of the development’s main spine road, Junction Place Boulevard, a new commercial corridor will open up new opportunities for enterprises. About 8,000 sqm. of commercial lots facing this spine road have been sold to enterprising investors to date. ALI envisions to spur economic activity in the area, providing the needs of this bustling location.

“Buyers can put up their own office buildings, event venues, car showrooms or service centers. These are bite-size areas, averaging 1,200 sqm. lots, that are ready to be developed into whatever an innovative entrepreneur has in mind,” adds Stephen.

The Junction Place will soon welcome a 5,000-sqm. WalterMart, which will have anchor tenants like WalterMart Supermarket, W Department Store, Abenson, Homeplus, food choices, and service outlets.

The transport hub will benefit the surrounding communities of The Junction Place.

“At the heart of The Junction Place is a community center that integrates retail, dining, and service options with activity nodes for community fairs and events. It is envisioned as a meeting place with refreshing green spaces.

“The Junction Place will also be built on the concept of encouraging social interaction with multi-purpose areas for sports and recreation that allow people to relax and unwind.”

Stephen and Manny reveal that ALI will construct the development with tree-lined roads, energy-efficient street lighting, walkable connections between the residential and the commercial spaces, and ample convergence spaces.

“Staying true to our commitment to responsible and sustainable estate development, we are putting in place tried and tested principles to provide an organized, safe and convenient environment here at The Junction Place,” Stephen says.

Retail developments, Waltermart and the community center, are also expected to be completed in the next two to three years.

The Junction Place is expected to ease some of the urban congestion in the area. With the access road between Quirino Highway and Tandang Sora Avenue that ALI is building will provide an alternative access for motorists and will cut travel time between the two roads.

Stephen adds that the development will “enhance transport access while building a new community” in Novaliches bounded by two of the busiest thoroughfares in Metro Manila.

The Junction Place will have its own transport hub to link Novaliches to other key hubs across QC and Manila, including Trinoma, Balintawak and Blumentritt. The district will also benefit from the upcoming Mega Manila Subway project, as planned stations in Quirino Highway and Tandang Sora Avenue will be less than a kilometer away from this new development.