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Mindanao-based company ups ante in property development in the South
DAVAO CITY—When one thinks of an off-center property away from the urban center, one would wish to venture into thinking that it could be a shoreline property, a vacation home, and a garden city, very much akin to how this biggest high-end property development is being carved out of the Island Garden City of Samal.
This is the project called Samal Shores Residenza, the biggest yet to emerge from the most exciting development in this island garden city, which is soon to get connected to the mainland with the construction of a P23.039-billion bridge by 2027.
More than a residential project, the 150-hectare property development boasts of two five-star hotel edifices jutting out from the greeneries to get the best view of the shoreline of Samal and the skyline of Davao City, and a clubhouse perched atop the property’s highest point, at 104 meters above sea level, to offer a breathtaking view of Mount Apo, the country’s highest peak.
“THIS will be our first salvo to super high-end development in the country,” said Celedonio A. Pile Jr., vice president for business development and special projects of Ulticon Builders Inc., the parent company of Tri-Gon Realty Corp. which is undertaking the project planning and construction.
Its 170-room hotel buildings have a convention facility for 1,200 guests and two helipads at the top. The first wing was opened in July, and has since turned out booked sales all throughout, despite occupancy jitters among hotels across Asia and the world in the post-Covid-19 pandemic era. The second wing would open in October on an optimistic foresight that the market is more than Davao City.
“It’s Mindanao market, and for those in Luzon, what comes to mind is putting up a home here,” he said.
With the hotel architecture of long columns conspicuously standing wide abreast of spacious lobby, the owners of the property would introduce the buyers into the residenza villas “of the quality and lifestyle that they are buying into the property.”
This 11-digit-budget property development started almost a decade early, with the concept anchored on the dream of a connector bridge. The bridge had long been talked and hyped about to link the island with the most proximate Davao City, and owners soon gathered the best architects and planners of the industry, including a team of Igorot artisans from the Luzon uplands to install the stone brick walls that are synonymous with the centuries-old wall craftsmanship of the rice terraces in the Mountain Province.
THE Samal Shores Residenza is the principal and flagship project allotted with 31 hectares of rolling terrain from near the beachfront going into the interior. Each lot has an average cut of 250 square meters and a small portion of land at the higher point has been dedicated to the more luxurious living space of 750 square meters. This portion of land offers a breezy view of the three-kilometer channel between the island and Davao City.
Some 8,000 square meters have been allotted to open space, allotted generously to the entire property, and future development would include a shopping mall, a medical facility and a police station. A golf course has been presented as another future development item.
Part of the touch of class of the property development is ascribed to the family of the property developer, who is into art, painting and landscape galore. “You marry this with good planners and you got the execution of the idea of the highest standard of what we can think about. One knows how ‘nice is nice’ but when you work together with a good planner who is good in these things, you got to magnify the ideas of the principal. That’s what we did here,” Pile said.
He said actual construction “came up better than what we expected.” And the Discovery Group, which manages the hotels, lent the quality signature.
“Part of the system [is], we wanted to establish that signature. When we go to the subdivision this is our level of aspiration for the quality standard,” he added. He said clients “go here, they see it, and modestly, they like it, it’s very visual.”
Price was never an issue in acquiring the property, Pile said, insisting on the vision of the owners “to instill even among clients to co-create the value in the property.”
“We will not brag [about] it being five-star quality. It is here. This is our standard. We created this value, and we will enhance it. So the idea now is to bring it to the next level,” he said.
The biggest property development on the island was supposed to be that of the Malaysia-owned Ekran Berhad, also a high-end hotel and accommodation development company in Kuala Lumpur. It did not take off, however, after it was hit in succession by the Asian financial meltdown in 1996 and the world financial crisis in 2008.
THE idea of a vacation home came up as an inspiration from an Indonesia shoreline property development several decades ago, “when Indonesia was about 10 years ahead of property development than the Philippines.”
A similar prototype was in Nasugbu, Batangas, with an 88-hectare property, like a peninsula jutting out to sea. While the vacation place was constructed in 1997, the idea of a vacation home made this Nasugbu resort an instant hit among Metro Manila residents during the Covid-19 pandemic, when people wanted to stay away from the epicenter of the contagion.
“Besides, people came to adjust to the online lifestyle, and the idea of a second home away from the metropolis attracted residents,” he said.
“Despite the online lifestyle, Zoom is still Zoom and the distance still makes residents feel extracted from their original urban home,” he added.
It would be different for the Samal Shores Residenza. “It’s proximate to Davao City, that it’s like still being home after a few minutes of travel from the city,” Pile pointed out.
“About five minutes or so from Davao City, you are already here in the property. And for Davao City residents, life is highly urban already. And they are going off center, away from the urban center, it’s like Manila already,” he added.
And when one thinks of a place away from the city, one would often think about a shoreline property, “a vacation home; the setting is a garden city much like what Samal is named,” Pile said.
“This is a shoreline property, and whatever happens it is still a beach. And there is scarcity and that makes it expensive,” Pile said. Compare it with the posh subdivisions in the city. “They are in the middle of traffic and the middle of everything.”
But here in Samal, “you got a beach development here, a five-star hotel, a shoreline to go with it and the breeze of the sea. Add to that the views of Mount Apo.”
Pile foresees their foray into Samal to eventually become a benchmark for the future of property development in the country.