Delivering on the dream of a home for every Filipino » Manila Bulletin Business

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From Henry Sy’s dream and legacy of selling a pair of shoes to every Pinoy comes another vision his son and name bearer, SM Prime Holdings Inc. Chairman Henry Sy Jr. created – this time to provide access to homes for every Filipino through SM Development Corporation (SMDC).

Henry Sy Jr.

Sy sees the huge opportunities for SMDC in serving Filipino families in a country where there is a backlog of over 5.5 million homes as of 2016.

“I want the Philippines to be a nation of howeowners. At the moment, we are selling 15,000 to 20,000 units a year and we want to increase that to provide more families with homes,” SM Prime and SMDC Chair Henry Sy Jr. said.

With the launch of Mezza Residences in 2006, SMDC recently marked its 10th year in the business with 31 projects and more than 50,000 units delivered to residents.

SMDC has redefined urban living spaces for over a decade. With an emerging and growing market in the young middle class, SMDC found a niche in families and professionals who aspired for a better life, looked for new experiences and are equipped with increased spending power in a growing Philippine economy. Its simple and successful proposition: To provide accessible and affordable homes with five-star amenities across the country.

SMDC developed properties in key cities in Metro Manila and now in the provinces that offer accessibility to major transport terminals as well as malls and retail podiums and other basic services.

Convenience is the name of the game, related Sy who saw and felt its importance while briefly living in Hong Kong during the mid-1980s until the early 1990s. He said he had to walk several meters, lugging around heavy grocery or several laundry bags from the supermarket or laundry area to his apartment.

“Convenience is very important. I want to give Filipinos a chance to own homes in good, premium areas such as those beside a mall or transport terminal or build a mall within the condominium itself to provide residents with convenience,” Sy said.

Thoughtful designs

Apart from ensuring convenience, SMDC has innovated through its amenities and attractive designs – a cinema in Light Residences, Sky Lounges in Princeton, Coast and Breeze Residences, island amenities in Shore Residences, a huge clubhouse and sports complex in Wind Residences, large swimming pools in Field Residences, linear parks in Trees Residences, a retail podium in Jazz that boasts of a delectable mix of dining concepts, to name a few.

For another first this year, SMDC launched its first medium-rise building project outside of Metro Manila, Cheer Residences in Marilao, Bulacan that rises about five storeys high. SMDC also unveiled its maiden house and lot project and its maiden foray into economic housing in Pampanga. Nestled in Mabalacat town, Cheerful Homes offers an affordable integrated residential community that has its own commercial area, transport hub, property management and a hectare of amenities.

Aerial view, Artist’s Perspective of Cheer Residences in Marilao, Bulacan, SMDC’s first medium-rise residential project outside of Metro Manila.

Aerial view, Artist’s Perspective of Cheer Residences in Marilao, Bulacan, SMDC’s first medium-rise residential project outside of Metro Manila.

In 2016, SMDC entered China’s real estate industry with the completion of the Silk Residences showroom in SM City Chengdu, a testament to the company’s committment in building world-class developments that are well-received by the international market.

There is much thought placed into the design of SMDC units which typically span 24 square meters for a one-bedroom unit and 32 sqm for a two-bedroom unit.

Albert Yu of ASYA, SMDC’s long-time architect, said that this goes with listening closely and observing what the market needs.

“In ASYA, our culture is to design with a purpose. One of the things that is important to us is the habitable size of the residence for the buyer,” Yu said.

Yu said that this requires striking a graceful balance between the actual living space and the amenities in the development.

“Even the whole family can stay together while they’re working in the city. It’s just a matter of managing the space. In the city, people need affordable living where they can stay Mondays to Fridays, like a halfway home. We also play with the amenities, making sure that they get a wholistic experience out of the residence’s facilities.  The amenities are hyper-sized to give that feeling like you’re entering a hotel. Accessibility to the mall or retail is a plus as it acts like a clubhouse,” Yu said.

Most SMDC projects are located near malls to complete the mall complex’s lifestyle city offering. If the mall is of considerable distance, SMDC builds its own retail strip within the condominium building, offering both convenience and lifestyle.

For Melinda Tan, 44, owning a unit at Mezza Residences in Manila proved a wise investment Since investing in 2009 in a one-bedroom unit, Tan’s initial investment of just over R1 million per unit has certainly increased in value.

“At that time, we wanted an investment. Our primary home is near Mezza Residences so the main advantage is we can go there to use the amenities — to swim and work out in the gym. My kids were 8 and 9 years old then so having a field and a playground was a plus. Parang nagkaroon kaming clubhouse near our primary home,” Tan said.

Design also plays a major role in the safety of the residents and resiliency of the structure says ASYA’s Yu. He said that ASYA makes sure that there is atechnical due diligence which includes a hydro study done on SMDC’s projects before its actual construction.

“We have a study on what will happen if there is flood for all SMDC projects we undertake. The building should be elevated by a certain level. We make sure that we care for the welfare of our buyers,” Yu said.

Artist’s perspective of Air Residences in Makati.

Artist’s perspective of Air Residences in Makati.

Looking at the future of residences

Sy remains upbeat on the residential market, saying that SMDC’s growth will likely accelerate in the next five years. One of the main factors that will ensure the company’s drive forward he says are the people behind SMDC, a sales force of about 1,700, who are empowered to be part of the decision process and to promote the projects like owners. In the first half of 2017, reservation sales grew 22% from recently launched projects.

As SMDC continues to diversify its offerings, Sy said there are still a lot of opportunities in the market and the company will continue with its expansion nationwide. SMDC continues to take advantage of the synergies within the SM group as it integrates the residences with the mall or lifestyle complexes for greater convenience of its residents.

“I want everybody to be affluent so we will have a better life, primarily with a roof on our heads and a good, clean environment to live in. The environment plays a big role in your present and future because it shapes you,” Sy said.

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