Active lifestyle communities: The next wave in property development?

In Photo: Bike lanes have become standard fare for residential developments, touted as active lifestyle communities.

column-amor maclangTHE great Plato himself once said, “The lack of activity destroys the good condition of every human being, while movement and methodical physical exercise save it and preserve it.” Nothing can be truer.

The fact, however, is that we really don’t need a brilliant philosopher to tell us that, in an era dominated by the preponderance of unhealthy and highly processed food and largely sedentary jobs, the best way to keep one’s health is to maintain an active lifestyle.

Everyone knows this. Sadly, when told to exercise and sweat it out, many of us simply snap back and claim that we don’t have access to a gym or are simply too busy to work out. These reasons may be true to some extent, but they are hardly valid excuses to remain inactive.

The good thing is that efforts to promote health and well-being have become a welcome initiative for many groups, be they companies, educational institutions, professional organizations and even local government units.

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Priming properties by promoting physical activity

The need to promote an active lifestyle amid a world generally characterized by unhealthy living is apparently one of the reasons property developers have started to develop communities around amenities and areas that encourage physical activity.

Some communities host marathons and running events to drive people into their areas and associate the community with active lifestyles.
Some communities host marathons and running events to drive people into their areas and associate the community with active lifestyles.

Several years ago, property developers primed communities they are developing by putting up malls and markets to beef up activity and jack up interest in the area. This still actually works; but, nowadays, property developers have added a new way to prime communities for development.

And that is by establishing areas for sports, biking, jogging and walking.

It is no longer uncommon for developers to establish biking and running lanes and even football fields near ongoing developments. Naturally, health-conscious individuals and families would gravitate toward these areas, developing a natural affinity for the place. They, thus, become potential clients for residential projects, particularly for developments that are set up to become active lifestyle communities.

In the area where Evia City is developed, for instance, there is a vacant lot that is now being used as a football field.

Young and old health buffs are seen playing football in the morning, particularly on weekends. There is even an area where people organize bike swap meets every Sunday. These activities bode well for the marketing efforts of the 600-hectare Evia City, a development of Vista Land in Cavite.

Active lifestyle communities

Simply put, active lifestyle communities are residential developments or mixed-use townships that have facilities that heavily promote physical activity, such as gyms, bike lanes, running lanes, open fields for sports, swimming pools and covered basketball courts.

This kind of community has become an attractive option in recent time, particularly for health-conscious millennials and soon-to-be retirees who want and need the option of having a more physically engaging kind of lifestyle.

One of the best examples of an active lifestyle community is Vermosa, a 700-hectare mixed-use development in Cavite. Vermosa, an Ayala Land Inc. (ALI) project, is a master-planned pedestrian-focused, street-oriented development with generous open spaces and a landscaped promenade where residents are encouraged to walk or run.

In fact, the centerpiece of the project is a sports and lifestyle complex designed for athletes and fitness enthusiasts, with an Olympic-size pool, a track oval, bike trails, motocross tracks and an urban kart racetrack. The list of facilities is actually kind of impressive. Indeed, the development takes the term “active lifestyle community” to a whole new level and I tip my hat off to ALI for this.

Another community worth mentioning is Filinvest City in Alabang.  The community has become a running and biking destination for residents in the surrounding area. In fact, a car-less area has been assigned every Sunday morning and some of the empty lots have been converted to trails for mountain bikers.

The truth is, developers have been incorporating in their townships, particularly those in Metro Manila and neighboring provinces, with health and fitness facilities and amenities for the longest time. However, it is only recently that whole communities are beginning to be developed around this specific active lifestyle concept.

Interestingly enough, some old townships are being regroomed, so to speak, to become active lifestyle communities with the addition of new facilities. Also, communities like Nuvali and Vista City often host marathons and similar sporting events to associate the communities with sports and fitness.

The question, therefore, is this: Are we seeing the new wave in Philippine property development? I believe it remains to be seen; for although active lifestyle communities have already been a thing in developed countries since the turn of the millennium, the concept has not yet been fully embraced by property developers here in our shores.

But since Filipinos are now largely conscious of their health and well-being—as evidenced by the mushrooming of gyms around cities, town and neighborhoods; and the apparent revival of biking as a legitimate means of transportation and exercise—it will not be a total surprise if we see more active lifestyle communities being developed in the years to come.

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