Binondo, oldest center of trade and commerce

If you still have visions of Binondo’s welcome arc transporting you to the land of Suzy Wong, don’t be surprised by its transformation. From its foundation in 1594 during the Spanish colonial era as a seat of trade and industry with the immigrant merchants, to its evolution into the world of the glitz and glamour of theater and cinema beginning with the Teatro de Binondo in 1790, and into the fashionable district in the 1920s fondly called downtown.

When the center of business and elite residential developments gradually shifted to Makati, Binondo’s commercial participation slowly declined. But, the stalwarts of the Filipino-Chinese community trudged on and went about their business, quietly and patiently.

Today, the world’s oldest Chinatown, is slowly re-emerging as a district developing into residential and commercial interest.  As of 2017, zonal value of residential condominiums in Binondo averaged P41,000 per square meter.

Maricris Sarino-Joson, director, Client Services-Tenant Representation at Colliers International shared, “We see tremendous potential in Binondo due to private developers’ and the government’s plan to redevelop one of the oldest business hubs in the country.  Being the oldest Chinatown in the world also appeals to end-users and investors. The redevelopment of historical buildings is another option that developers can explore, and leverage the structures’ and their surroundings’ cultural heritage.”

Colliers International research manager Joey Bondoc adds, “There are small parcels of land viable for office projects.  Some developers are still looking at developing office towers to cater to traditional and non-BPO locators, firms looking for smaller office cuts. Some investors are also looking at office spaces for sale. We see increased queries from banks, insurance companies, manpower agencies, law firms, and even financial technology (fintech) companies.”

Based on a snapshot of competitive landscape provided by Bondoc, office leasing inventory averages at P450 per sqm. The challenge for office developments is the lack of masterplanning in the area. This should be addressed by developers moving forward. “The challenge for office developments is the lack of masterplanning in the area. This should be addressed by developers moving forward,” he shared.

Colliers sees the residential segment as a bright spot with some condominium projects in the area breaching P150,000 per sqm. Sarino-Joson adds, “Land values in the area are still high, and this is among the reasons why developers are able to command a premium for their residential development.”

From uptown to downtown, Binondo is bouncing back with the continued presence of wholesale retailers, lifestyle centers, and the development of more office and residential towers.  Beyond the usual food crawl, you can live, work and play in the oldest center of trade and commerce.

Wherever you choose to put your peso in this part of Manila, it can only grow. Quietly, steadily, patiently.