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Ongpin firm invests P1.5B in urban recreation hub

MANILA, Philippines—Alphaland Corp., an upscale property developer led by former Trade Minister Roberto V. Ongpin, has debuted in the urban recreation hub business with a P1.5-billion investment in The City Club, which will rise in the Makati central business district by end-2012.

In an interview with the Inquirer, Alphaland president Mario Oreta said the new urban club—to be located at the former Zuellig building along Ayala Avenue Extension—was designed to offer even more amenities than the plush Manila Polo Club except for the horse facilities. He said the club has started offering shares at prices that were escalating each month since the pre-selling began in January.

The strong reception for the club’s shares indicated brisk demand for respite in an urban jungle especially among the young upwardly mobile professionals working in Makati. Ongpin’s group sees the timing of its entry into this business as “appropriate” as no new facilities of such kind had been built in the metropolis since the completion of the Rockwell Club in 1999 and the Tower Club in 2000.

“A niche market’s varied and expanded interests have gone unmet for over a decade,” Alphaland said in its announcement that construction of The City Club was in full swing.

Oreta said selling was on an “invitational” basis and the number of shares being sold each month were being deliberately curtailed to allow The City Club to keep sufficient inventory of its own stock, which can be sold for a maximum price of P2 million once the club is completed.

The Alphaland chief said The City Club would likely have sold 2,000 of the 4,500 shares that it is authorized to sell by the time the urban leisure club is fully operational by Christmas of next year.

When the club started pre-selling shares in January, the shares were sold for an introductory price of P500,000 each. Every month, the selling price is increasing by P100,000. “We control the number of share. For instance, this April we will sell only 50 shares for P700,000, because people are clamoring for it and we don’t want to sell all our shares,” Oreta said.

The City Club has sold 100 shares each for January, February and March. In the succeeding months, only 50 shares will be made available.

The City Club is designed to offer up to 51 different types of amenities in a two-hectare space, which is double its actual land area. It will have seven themed restaurants in addition to a dessert cafe and an open barbecue area, a daycare center and sports amenities for children. It will also have fitness amenities such as swimming, badminton, tennis, running, boxing, Pilates and indoor golf facilities as well as business facilities including meeting rooms, conference rooms, an Internet cafe and a library.

“If you compare it with Manila Polo Club, we have more amenities except the horses and Polo Club is selling at P7.2 million [per share] so it’s really a fantastic deal. It’s a steal,” Oreta said.

Ongpin’s group, which once established Tagaytay Highlands, will likewise employ this escalating price scheme when it starts selling preferred shares in another plush club that will own and operate the 424-hectare exclusive tropical island-resort rising on Balesin Island, Quezon.

The Securities and Exchange Commission recently approved the registration of securities to be offered by Alphaland Balesin Island Club Inc. (ABICI) consisting of 391 primary preferred shares and 3,519 secondary shares at a maximum price of P2 million a share. ABICI is a subsidiary of Alphaland Balesin Island Resort Corp., which is in turn wholly owned by Alphaland.

Shares in Balesin will be sold for a maximum price of P2 million each when the club is fully operational but the club will start pre-selling the shares at more affordable prices. Oreta said pre-selling would likely start at P1 million a share.

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