Malls Move Up the Metropolis

How Ayala Malls are the heart OF THE country’s CBDS, helping shape the communities’ evolving lifestyle

Through our history, plazas were the center of convergence for towns or cities. It was the physical, economic, social, cultural, and religious center and served as the venue for the community’s events.

But with the creation of new business districts in the 1940s, the center of gravity started to shift, and with it, the social patterns of the community as well.

Back in 1946, the Makati Central Business District (CBD) was only just taking shape from the former airfield that it was. Though considered remote from the town center at that time, the real estate division of Ayala Corporation (which later became Ayala Land) developed a large-scale master planned district, then a novel concept in the Philippines.

At the heart of this CBD was Ayala Center which then became the centerpiece of the development.

Greenbelt is the centerpiece of the Makati Central Business District, formerly an airfield.

With the creation of business districts, the lifestyle evolved – new convergence centers were created, while retaining the green and open areas which serve as an urban oasis. These lifestyle centers helped redefine the Filipinos’ way of life and how people connected with each other. 

With its signature brand of mall development in bringing in modern brands and tastes, while having a seamless integration of the indoors with lush outdoor spaces, Ayala Malls expanded from just shopping complexes to a complete lifestyle destination.

Greenbelt: Constantly enhancing lifestyle choices

Merging what previously were small arcades and shops, Ayala Land Inc.’s (ALI’s) Greenbelt first opened to the public in 1988. It was envisioned to be the country’s first lifestyle center with a variety of bars and dining options, boutiques, lush tropical greenery and a world-class museum. Its gardens also host the Santo Niño de Paz Greenbelt Chapel, an open-air place of worship which holds masses for mall patrons and office workers every day.

The complex now boasts Greenbelt 1 to 5, with the sections complementing each other from entertainment to luxury fashion and labels to a selection of cuisines, while keeping its essence of being a park with lush foliage.

Greenbelt seamlessly integrates the indoor experience with the outdoor in its expansive 12-hectare space with a sprawling 2.8-hectare garden amidst a world-class shopping and dining paradise. Offering remarkable retail, dining, and entertainment options in the city, Greenbelt exemplifies the best of what the Ayala Malls has to offer.

Greenbelt was the first to bring top international brands to the Philippines, and today is the preferred location for luxury brands such as Louis Vuitton, Hermes, Chanel, Rolex, and many more. The opening of its recently renovated Greenbelt 3 offers a new level of luxury shopping for the discerning Filipino.

Glorietta: Vibrance and convenience at the heart of Makati

Also within the Ayala Center complex in the Makati CBD is Glorietta – originally a landscaped park with an outdoor stage for event hosting, built in the 1970s. The name is a Spanish word used to describe the public meeting place in Spanish colonial-era designed towns.

Before becoming Glorietta, the mall was known as Makati Commercial Center complex which was divided into four sections: Quad 1, Quad 2, Quad 3, and Glorietta 4 – which would soon be home to the establishments of today.

The Glorietta mall opened in 1992 designed with four zones a gross leasable area of 250,000 square meters. Today, it has become a vibrant convergence point strategically located near prestigious office addresses, premier hotels, and main transport terminals. With its wide selection of shopping, dining, and entertainment offerings organized into strategic zones, Glorietta continues to elevate leisure and recreation, welcoming and adapting to new culture groups and worldwide trends. Mallgoers were recently treated to experiences such as the light projection mapping show of Stranger Things in partnership with Netflix, its ongoing Feed Your Seoul Campaign that features anything and everything about Korea – such as food, fashion, entertainment, and beauty, and multiple collaborations with Spotify.

Ayala Center Cebu: The premier lifestyle center of the South

Venturing outside of Metro Manila, ALI brought its lifestyle centers to the Queen City of the South. Built on what used to be a 44-hectare golf course in uptown Cebu City, the developer introduced large-scale, developments to the city with Cebu Business Park. At the heart of this unprecedented master planned project in Cebu was the nine-hectare Ayala Center Cebu.

Ayala Center Cebu sits on what used to be a 44-hectare golf course in uptown Cebu.

Most of Cebu Business Park was an open field crisscrossed by roads when Ayala Center Cebu opened in 1994. The mall provided retail and dining options that would attract residents and tourists alike. Being integrated with residential and office developments, it also brought to life the promise that those who made the wise choice of investing or living in the Cebu Business Park would have all their shopping and leisure needs within easy reach.

Ayala Center Cebu has become the premier lifestyle destination south of Luzon. It offers the best of the Queen City of the South in one place.

With the opening of this premier lifestyle destination, Cebu became the first metropolitan hub outside Metro Manila offering retail, dining, and entertainment options that are unparalleled in the South. It leads seamlessly to The Terraces, a multi-level dining and entertainment enclave with a beautiful landscaped park, stunning greenery, and water features.

Value appreciation

These pioneering developments which carried the Ayala lifestyle brand served as the centerpiece of the central business districts where they were located. With their constant redevelopment to address the evolving market needs, they helped increase the value of the areas around them.

Joseph McMicking, one of the managing partners of Ayala y Compania in his essay “The Makati Adventure” aptly described the business of land development when he contrasted it to selling salami. When a butcher sells salami, he cuts off as much as you want and forgets about it. The first slice is worth about as much as the last. “Land however, is not salami. It usually represents a huge investment in time and effort and it sells slowly,” McMicking wrote. “If you plan it right, each sale can increase the value of what you have left,” he added.

Centers of convergence and platforms for growth

Today, at 32 Ayala malls around the country, these lifestyle centers complete the synergy between leisure, work and living spaces within the ALI estates. They are a vital component to the convenience of estate living for the areas they serve. Not only have they become the new centers of convergence for the community, they have also helped usher in the global lifestyle for the market – bringing in fashion, food, technology and entertainment trends at real time with the rest of the world.

Having established Ayala malls in different parts of the country meant you didn’t need to travel far to get the best brands. These shopping destinations have become comparable to those abroad, giving a taste of global brands just within your city.

These malls have also served as platforms for growth for Filipino entrepreneurs, providing space and a market to showcase their creativity and ingenuity. Through the years, local entrepreneurs started with an idea in one of the Ayala malls and have now grown to have multiple branches nationwide.

Evolving with the times

As the world emerges to a post-pandemic world, these lifestyle destinations also continue to evolve with the changes that have accelerated over the past two and a half years. Despite a strong shift to the convenience of online shopping, developer Ayala Land believes malls will remain relevant because of the social experience it provides and the Filipinos’ need to connect.

Moving forward, Ayala Malls will provide enhanced immersive concepts – incorporating digital trends into its social spaces to create the complete experience. Also soon to come are more partnerships with big brands, as well as specialty stores to cater to niche interests that have emerged in recent years.  There will also be a comeback of live concerts featuring local and international artists — something which people always look forward to at Ayala malls.

As the market evolves and grows, so will every Ayala mall within it – serving as modern centers for lifestyle, convenience, and convergence, while enhancing the value of communities around them.