The convergence of land & life values

(Rivka is a marketing and communications strategist with over 20 years of experience in blue-chip corporations such as Procter & Gamble and Nestle Philippines, and high-investment real estate development with Ayala Land Inc. and ArthaLand Corporation.)

My earliest memory of the Makati Central Business District (CBD) is a place with wide, open spaces, landscaped streets, pedestrians crossing at-grade, Gabriela Silang and Sultan Kudarat watching over the city. Fort Bonifacio was a place where my (then) serviceman uncle lived. In between, there was the lovely tree-lined road that led to a church and a community mall. Little did I know that in a few years, this area was going to rapidly evolve into the townships they are today.

In the 1960s, the properties now defined as Makati CBD and Bonifacio Global City (BGC) had clearly defined land use. One was only beginning to become a master-planned community, and the other was assigned as a military reserve.

Makati established itself into a thriving, mixed-use development attracting investors, industrialists and the affluent. By the 1970s and 1980s, the city gained a reputation as the premier address for businesses, mostly multinational corporations, and home of the Makati Stock Exchange. 

As economic interests in Makati City continued, infrastructure, facilities, accommodations, retail conveniences, socio-civic institutions were put in place to sustain the influx of investors and foot traffic.  In these years, Fort Bonifacio (formerly Fort McKinley), remained under the jurisdiction of the Philippine government and was home to the Philippine Army.

By the 1990s, Makati was declared an independent city by virtue of R.A. 7854, whereas Fort Bonifacio was now under the jurisdiction of the Bases Conversion Development Authority (BCDA) to facilitate conversion from a military camp into productive civilian use. 

In 2003, Fort Bonifacio was officially earmarked for development by Ayala Land Inc. and Evergreen Holdings Inc., together with BCDA.

At this converging point, approximate land values in Makati CBD was around P200,000 per sqm. vs. Fort Bonifacio at P100,000 per sqm.  By 2005, a section of the fort was officially renamed Bonifacio Global City.  Around the same time, Megaworld began developing the section now known as McKinley Hill and in 2010 launched the property across as McKinley West. 

With a new masterplan, fresh infusion into infrastructure and a renewed interest from the market, Fort Bonifacio land values by 2012 had breached P200,000 sqm. and moving at par with MCBD at approximately P200,000 to 250,000 per sqm.

Makati CBD’s distinct skyline.

As Ayala Land focused on developing BGC, and Megaworld its McKinley properties, the market quickly responded with increased foot traffic.  Investors were considering both locations as alternative office addresses to Makati CBD.  The open areas became the destination of individuals looking for accessible outdoor areas to play in.  Dining and retail establishments were unique destinations.

By this time, I was a Makati CBD resident, a fledgling real estate brand architect, and a newbie runner.  The two areas were clearly defined in my lifestyle.  Makati CBD was my address for work, cocktails and a home I “parked” in.  Fort Boni, as we fondly called it, was a free space to run in, take deep breaths of fresh air and soak in the sun (or a starry, starry night!).

I witnessed how Makati CBD slowly quieted down like a lady on weekends, and how Fort Boni thrummed with the tapping of marching feet and the booming music at dawn gun starts, as the night revelers stood at the curbside of closed bars, and watched us run past. 

And, run we did. From BGC, up 5th Avenue, crossing the intersection of McKinley Road to Lawton Avenue, down all the way to Heritage Park on Bayani Road, and turning back all the way into the ups and downs of McKinley Hill. 

With the fierce morning sun, we make it back to the finish line in BGC.  Happy, hungry spirits all heading to whichever nearby fast food is open at this early hour. We didn’t have the plethora of 24-hour dining places one has today!

Since that time, Fort Boni has quickly evolved into a mass of low- to high-rise developments and retail establishments. Runners have had to adjust to the growing presence of vehicular traffic, observe stoplights, keep to the sidewalks, co-exist with other enthusiasts such as bikers, dog owners and increased pedestrian flow.

Various property developers, retail brands, local and multinational companies, hotels, embassies and academic institutions have located on the parcels of BGC, McKinley Hill and McKinley West.

Residential and commercial inventory continues to grow in both developments, but with infrastructure and responsive design in BGC outpacing MCBD.  Particularly evidenced by the perception of the market on commercial leasing, KMC Savills Research Manager Fred Rara shared, “There is a distinct impression in the market that differentiates Makati CBD and BGC.  BGC’s inventory is considered flexible, adaptive and appealing to the crop of millennials seeking a place to live and work.  On the other hand, Makati CBD remains to be the address of choice by the traditional and established organizations.”

As of 4Q 2018, Colliers International Philippine Research reported land value of Makati CBD at P782,000 per sqm. vs. BGC at P655,000 per sqm.  Average growth of 25 percent is forecasted for 4Q of 2019.

Makati CBD, in recent years, has become more involved in engaging the community venues for arts and culture such as the popular Art Fair Philippines and Art in the Park, the growing presence of holes-in-the-wall restaurants, cafes and bars, an ever-improving pedestrian experience with the wide sidewalks, convenient underpasses and interconnectivity of elevated walkways.

Improvements on infrastructure are in place to retrofit the existing structures for modern technology even as new buildings are rising.

As land values continue to go up in these locations, one has to muse over the continuing demand for these addresses. People, as with organizations, seem to find resonance with the unique vibe of each township, a fit with their long-term goals, or an acuity for financial investments. 

Or, like me, finding a neighborhood for my outdoor pursuits, an interest in the arts, and a joy over food and conversation. Life is not about a choice of Makati CBD or Fort Boni, with development in both and accessibility, one can have the life and values desired. Pun intended.

The evolving skyline of Taguig City.