An Investor’s Guide to the Bay City
Philippine Star
Mar 15, 2014


Asia’s rising star, the Philippines, continues to shine brighter than ever. Notwithstanding disasters, the Philippines has managed to grow by 7.2% in 2013, second only to China in the Asian region, and the fastest in Southeast Asia. Its growth in the last two years is the fastest clip since 1954-55, according to Bloomberg.


Its impressive record affirms its investment-grade climb, with the world’s leading credit agencies --  Fitch, Standard & Poor’s, and Moody’s Investor Service – all raising the Philippines’ credit rating to investment grade in 2013. It continues to run a current account surplus since 2003 and its foreign exchange reserves went up five fold in that period, making it less vulnerable to external shocks. This is a big achievement for the island nation which has trailed its neighbors economically over the past few decades, despite its wealth of natural resources and strategic location that makes it a natural gateway to and from Southeast Asia.


The Philippines’ stellar performance also brings to light the structural reforms the government has undertaken, which will serve as a solid foundation for the country’s sustained growth in the years ahead. By far, international financial institutions are one in expecting the Philippines’ growth to exceed 6% every year until 2015, and investor confidence is just as buoyant.


Reflecting the Philippines’ newfound economic strength, the property sector is likewise showing unparalleled vigor and dynamism. A perfect showcase of the Philippines’ economic vitality is the Bay City, probably the country’s most ambitious project to date, which eloquently captures the Philippine growth promise.


The Bay City vision

Spanning 1,500 hectares of land across the cities of Manila, Pasay and Parañaque, the Bay City is envisioned to be the entertainment destination of Southeast Asia. It is made up of the SM Mall of Asia complex, PAGCOR Entertainment City, Aseana City, Asia World, and Centennial City.  All these overlook the historic Manila Bay, one of the finest natural harbors in the world where galleons once docked and where majestic sunsets are a daily spectacle.


As the country’s flagship entertainment project, Bay City is expected to surpass all others—boasting of infrastructure and amenities not previously seen in other Philippine projects, all aimed at putting it on equal footing with the casino and entertainment scenes of Las Vegas, Macau, and Singapore. Once completed, Bay City will be home to 4 hotel casino resort complexes covering 3.3 million square feet of casino gaming areas, 6,000 hotel rooms, more than 10 luxury and business hotels, ICT complexes, and hundreds of restaurants and shops. It will also employ more than 25,000 full-time workers, more than 1,500 of whom are expats. In addition, the BPOs will employ more than 40,000 full-time workers, of which more than 2,000 are expats.  At least one million tourists are expected to visit annually.


It is also expected to bring in the biggest investors who have the foresight to see how the future will unfold, and will not hesitate to put their money where they can attain their vision.


The Big Four: Redefining entertainment in Asia

Indeed, the vision for Bay City is quickly taking shape with the entry of four major groups renowned for their expertise and their track record in defining the concept of entertainment. In 2013, the $1.2 billion Solaire Resort and Casino—the flagship endeavor of Bloomberry Resorts and Hotels, Inc of maritime port magnate Enrique Razon, Jr.—officially began operations. Sitting on 16 hectares of land, Solaire houses an 800-room 5-star hotel, a grand ballroom, and a 18,500 square meter casino gaming area with a 4,000 seating capacity. Not surprisingly, it is now the playground of the Asian gaming set. Currently, more than 4,500 full time employees provide unparalleled service to its visitors. In the second half of 2014, Solaire Resort & Casino will launch the second phase of its development.


This year, the City of Dreams Manila, a $1.18 billion project by Melco Crown Resort Corporation and Henry Sy's Belle Corporation on 10 hectares of land, will welcome the region’s and the country’s tourists to enjoy their brand of offerings. Tapping the world-class brand of City of Dreams in Macau, the development will also have numerous specialty restaurants and bars and will have 6 hotel towers including a 260-room Crown Towers Hotel and a 321-room Nobu Hotel. Once all planned hotels are up, it will offer 950 rooms and is expected to employ 5,500 full-time staff, of which 5% are expats.


Bringing up the ante, scheduled to open its doors in 2015 is Manila Bay Resorts, a $2 billion project by Tiger Resort, Leisure and Entertainment, Inc., owned by Japanese billionaire Kazuo Okada. The sprawling 43-hectare facility will house three hotels including a 6-star hotel, for a combined offering of over 1,000 hotel suites. To showcase the Philippines’ world-famous beaches, it will have an indoor man-made beach, along with a large gaming area, shopping malls, spa facilities, a cinema complex, an amusement center, a concert hall, and an assortment of retail and dining options, including a series of fine dining restaurants by Michelin-starred chefs from all over the world. It is expected to employ over 15,000 staff, of whom 5% are expats.


Last but not the least, set to commence operations in 2017 is the $1.1-billion Resorts World Bayshore by Travellers International, a partnership between Andrew Tan’s Alliance Global group, Inc. and Genting Hong Kong, Ltd. Covering an expanse of 30 hectares, it will be home to two hotels, a 3,000-seater grand opera house, a state-of-the-art theme park, a museum, a shopping mall, residential towers, and an expansive gaming area.


World-class support infrastructure

Complementing the casino and resort complexes are stand-alone establishments to enhance visitors’ and investors’ experience, among them, Conrad Hotel, Hotel 101, Tunes Hotel, the DFA Consular Office, the Embassy of Qatar, King's School Manila, ASEANA One IT Center, S & R Membership Shopping, a marina and yacht club, and car showrooms by Ford and Subaru.


More importantly, the Philippine Government has demonstrated its commitment to the success of Bay City by investing in the upgrade of its surrounding infrastructure.  For instance, the NAIA Expressway Phase 2 Road, which will connect all airports to the Bay City, is being constructed.The Light Rail Transit Line 1 is being extended from Baclaran to Bacoor to ensure even quicker access between Bay City, the airports and transit points. The Bay City is easily reached from any point in Metro Manila via major thoroughfares: Roxas Boulevard, EDSA, Cavite Coastal Road, and Macapagal Boulevard. The central business districts of Makati and Fort Bonifacio are a ten minute drive away. The Metro Rail, bus and jeepney terminals are within easy reach, as well as the ferry terminalfor boats sailing to Bataan in the North of Manila and Cavite in the South.


Security at the Bay City is robust. It is equipped with CCTV cameras to monitor activities in the area 24/7. Aseana City has installed a system based network that will provide smart city services. Phase one of the project will make use of enhanced CCTV devices and license plate detectors, to be followed by a transportation information service, a traffic control system, and digital information kiosks.


An investor’s paradise: the Bay City’s tremendous upside potential

Given these, the writing on the wall is clear: Bay City will be the most prime of all Metro Manila destinations, and those who are quick to recognize its potentials are sure to reap the biggest rewards. This early, real estate values in the Bay City have been increasing as demand for housing begins to expand, fuelled by the arrival of expats working in the area as well as the relocation of locals who have recognized the Bay City promise.


Clearly, Bay City is a gem for investors. Phillip G. Anonuevo, Associate Director of Jones Lang Lasalle, notes that “the Bay Area is one of a few districts in Metro Manila which has land available for development on a large scale. It has room for growth over the next 5 to 10 years.


An organized public transport system and accessibility via Edsa has contributed to the growth of the BPO office market over the last 2 years. All new office buildings, including those already built, enjoy an occupancy of 100% and upcoming office buildings are generating a high level of interest from potential tenants.Some of the largest call centers in the world are the anchor tenants of the Bay Area.The development of tourist class hotel casinos is also contributing to the increasing value of land. Land values have increased more than two times over the last 3 years as property investors anticipate the completion of more world class hotels.Property developers will benefit from the increasing commercial activity in the district. This combined with the charm of Manila Bay will allow residential developers to offer very attractive residential options to locals and expats.”


Well poised to soar along with Bay City is Monarch Parksuites, the largest development of real estate maverick Anchor Land. Monarch Parksuites is an 18-storey residential luxury condominium on an 18,000 square meter-piece of properly situated right at the doorstep of the Bay City entertainment enclaves. It is composed of four grand towers named after real castles in England: Windsor Suites, Windsor Place, Balmoral Suites, and Balmoral Place.


Conceptualized as a home for discriminating buyers, Monarch Parksuites is equipped with over 8,000 square meters of amenities including a 50-meter lap pool, a private theater, karaoke room, reading room, game room media room, state-of-the-art gym, tennis court, basketball court, children’s play area, and a gourmet dining room, among many others.


Since its launching, the property value of the project, along with its average rental income, has climbed steadily, and the trend is expected to continue. One month after it broke ground in last quarter, the project’s value appreciated by 20%.


Momentum is definitely on Anchor Land’s side.  “We have observed an increasing demand for residential and commercial space in the area, which creates a great opportunity for high rental income, as many are eager to live within this much coveted and extremely strategic location,” says Elizabeth Ventura, president of Anchor Land.


Anchor Land continues to find ways to enhance the value and rental income of its properties. For unit owners who prefer to rent out their units, Anchor Land has a special group of client servicing experts under the Anchor 100 umbrella who are tasked to provide a wide array of services that enhance the value of their investments. These include leasing and asset management and property management services.


Savvy investors know that in investing, timing is always of the essence. For sure, Monarch Parksuites is at the right place at the right time. For those who recognize this, the upside potential is tremendous.


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