MANILA, Philippines - Singapore has its Marina Bay while Hong Kong has the Victoria Harbor, the San Francisco Bay Area for Northern California, and the Hudson River for New York. When it comes to landmark developments in progressive international cities, it has been real estate golden rule to build near the water. Other than serving as natural harbors, bays have the strategic advantage of having the best of both worlds: the tranquil view and embrace of the open water and a sweeping coastline that could command prime property prices. And, soon enough, Cebu’s key industrial city of Mandaue could take its place among the world’s most breathtaking bayside developments.
Found at the center of Opon Channel, the slender body of water that separates the island of Mactan from the Cebu mainland, Mandani Bay is a 20-hectare waterfront township dreamed up by the Gaisano Group’s Taft Properties in partnership with one of Asia’s leading property investment and development groups, Hong Kong Land. “If you believe in feng shui, this place has the best feng shui in Cebu. No wonder, among the portfolio that we have, Hong Kong Land CEO Robert Wong chose this one and no other. In your back, the mountain, in the front is the sea, and it is facing east,” describes Taft Properties’ chairman Jack Gaisano.
“I didn’t believe it could happen, but it happened. This is combining the international experience of Hong Kong Land, our local knowledge of the business in the Philippines, to develop the premier mixed-use development that will transform Cebu into a world-class lifestyle destination,” Gaisano assures.
But while the 130-billion peso, 10,000-unit master-planned township development is poised to change the Mandaue City skyline in a fast decade and a half, the developers of Mandani Bay are also facing the challenges of a city in rapid flux. Riddled with metropolitan congestion, newer developments left and right, and the environmental impact of an expanding economy, the city of Mandaue certainly has a lot to live up for. “It is a city that is growing in terms of population that you have to go vertical. It’s the only way that the city develops sustainably,” observes Finn Carew, the chief representative of Hong Kong Land in the country.
“The vision for Mandani Bay really stemmed from our personal dreams and personal experiences. How come when you travel in different countries, you see fantastic developments where it’s always a fantastic experience to walk around in, where traffic and parking are not an issue? Everywhere that you go, everything is so orderly. That’s what we wanted to have here in Cebu,” shares Taft Properties’ COO Cristopher Narciso.
“Some of these features are, in fact, pioneering in the Philippines. The usual issue of traffic within a township development, we’ve addressed that. We have two levels of vehicular traffic flow, three levels of pedestrian traffic flow, and you will see that the sub-ground levels of the whole 20 hectares of the development are interconnected to service all the parking requirements and vehicular traffic within,” Narciso notes.
The efficiency of multiple traffic flows and refreshing bayside living can be gauged when the project’s first phase, the 1,200-unit residential complex, Mandani Bay Blue Seas, reaches completion by the year 2020. And plots for its studios, one-bedroom, two-bedroom and two-bedroom loft, city or bay-view properties—priced from 3 million to 20 million pesos—are selling fast.
“We saw that most of the market activities we have so far are from Cebu and from the Visayas. I think in the next phase, we plan to go internationally. Maybe it’s more for overseas Filipino workers, some buyers from Metro Manila as well. We see that the reception has been excellent for our value proposition. It’s a world-class development for a very affordable price,” shares Carew.
Yet, with seven other residential phases and two more commercial phases to go, the developers at Mandani Bay made sure that no one is too early to pitch tent. “One thing that’s unique about our master plan, when you look at it being completed as a whole, we picture it to be an evolution. So, as we progress and build by phases the master plan will have interim components and features. We started with our interim green zone across, and by next year, we will have an interim retail strip, as well as interim office spaces. We assure that the lifestyle, the flavor, and the whole development can be initially experienced already,” explains Narciso.
Of the Mandani Bay’s 20 percent retail component, Carew adds that, “a lot of the retail will be at the podium level because we want to encourage street-level interaction and not too much of the boxed-up mall activity.” Add this with airy boardwalks, modern resort amenities, and a total of one-hectare dedicated to green areas, you have the formula for a mindful, mix-use of live, work, shop, and play right by the picturesque bay.
“What this development really celebrates is its waterfront nature, built around water in a way that you can’t see in other developments in the Philippines. We’ve really done well with our waterfront developments around the world and we really want to bring this here,” Hong Kong Land’s Finn Carew asserts.