Private-public partnership sets in motion new additions to the fast-changing landscape of Fort Bonifacio Global City and the rest of Central Luzon

Relatively new urban communities like Fort Bonifacio Global City, McKinley Hill and Newport City are undeniably hot sellers in the real estate market.

Much of the success of these emerging business, residential and leisure destinations is attributed to the public-private partnership that went behind the careful planning of the communities’ masterplans.

“The trend right now is really public-private partnerships,” shares Dean Santiago, vice president of business development for the Bases Conversion and Development Authority (BCDA), a government agency whose mandate is to convert former US military baselands and Metro Manila camps into productive civilian economic growth centers. “In BCDA, we thought it best to go into joint venture agreements with real estate companies like Ayala Land, Inc. and Megaworld Corporation to come up with the best plans to develop Fort Bonifacio and Villamor Airbase.”

BCDA is one of the few government agencies vested with corporate powers. “One of our mandates is to raise funds from the sale of disposition,” shares Aileen R. Zosa, EVP. “We enter into joint ventures but these are essentially sales. We put in the land, and the developer contributes to the horizontal and vertical development of the property. Right now, we get around an average of P1 billion a year from FBDC (Fort Bonifacio Development Corportation) and we invest that, in turn, in the development of our special economic zones in Clark and Subic.”

Creating Engines of Growth

More than just asset disposition, a large thrust of BCDA is converting the camps into thriving mixed communities that attract investment opportunities, create jobs, and stimulate economic activity. Since the start of its asset disposition program, the agency has generated a total of P46.495 billion from the disposition of former Metro Manila camps, the biggest of which are the former Fort Bonifacio Camp and Villamor Air Base.

What is interesting about Fort Bonifacio Global City is that it boasts of good urban planning. “Bonifacio Global City is a well-planned community,” says Zosa of what used to be one of the more quiet areas of the metro. “It was deliberate that we put up the schools first because they added value to the land.

That is how you build a city. When we added the residential area—the first ones were Pacific Plaza and Essensa Towers—after that, sunod sunod na. While the ’97 Asian financial crisis slowed us a bit, the real estate boom of 2005 enabled us to pick up where we left off.”

The result was Bonifacio High Street, a mixed-use development that is now home to major office Rlocators, an enhanced shopping and dining experience, all presented in an aesthetically land- and green-scaped stretch.

Space: Still A Frontier

The success of Bonifacio Global City as a mixed community eventually attracted investments that paved the way toward McKinley Hill and Newport City. “A big portion of McKinley Hill, which is developed by Megaworld, are offices, but it’s also a mixed-use development,” shares Zosa. “What makes it different from Bonifacio High Street is that it offers subdivision lots. They have walk-ups, townhouses, and what we’re looking forward to is the Venice-inspired canals at the Venetian Mall. There will be gondolas there, too.”

The now bustling Newport City, developed by Resorts World Corporation, serves a predominantly entertainment purpose. “Newport City also has offices and residential areas, but it will mostly target all kinds of tourists—from high-end travelers to backpackers—because it’s near the airport. The development there is more airport- and tourism-related,” Zosa shares.

New developments abound in the Fort area as well. With the middle part of Bonifacio Global City reaching fruition, BCDA deemed it the best time to start expanding. According to Zosa, the Bonifacio Art Foundation Project, composed of the FBDC, BCDA and other locators, will be putting up the Mind Museum, a highly interactive science museum. “In addition, a new Shangri-La six-star hotel will start development in the area next year,” informs Zosa. “We’ve already gotten the construction permit for both so development is finally starting.”

With the Fort Bonifacio Camp and Villamor Airbase successfully transformed into high economic centers, Zosa says the thrust of BCDA is to now use the proceeds to invest in Clark and Subic. “We’ll invest in roads and in the equipment of the international airport. Recently, NAIA has been having problems with its navigational equipment so now the government is looking at Clark as the country’s next premier international gateway to the world.”

This article was published in the Business Agenda Section of the Manila Bulletin, October 4, 2010.