Living around and above the malls

by Steve Van Derodar

| Photo from Mercury Towers by Zaha Hadid Architects via SVDerodar

Part of what we believe comfortable in the way we live is to reside within reach of shopping destinations. Some Filipinos and ex-pats believe this and reside near or within the conveniences of shopping malls. Some live in buildings within the structures of malls, if not within a stone’s throw away from them. To some extent, these residences are above the malls — redefining modern living.

In today’s residential offerings, living in shopping complexes is ordinary because of urbanism. Perhaps, efficient land use has it to maximize zoning allowances while offering dynamism to the commercial-residential enclaves. The residences within the malls aren’t just a statement of lifestyle but also a state of function, accessibility, and practicality.

According to Guardian.com, ‘The malls of Metro Manila, 16 of them qualifying as “supermalls” – to say nothing of the various “community malls” and “lifestyle malls” – offer all of life’s necessities and most of its pleasures. These cities unto themselves descend, in some sense, from Manila’s walled colonial-era “city within the city” of Intramuros.’ It added, ‘But today’s largest malls offer not just the usual shops, eateries, grocery stores, and movie theatres, but bowling alleys, gyms, medical offices, and even churches….’ It means that literally, the mall has everything we need, and having to live within or near the mall could complete a day’s set of activities.

Several finest luxury buildings in Metro Manila and Metro Cebu are next to malls. Indeed, by a matter of trend, some are above them. And expectedly, there is interconnectedness within these structures. It could be through private elevators, walkways, and even bridges. Among other reasons, it makes it more inviting complementary to a fast-paced life, dynamic ambiance, and the center of the action.

“Shopping malls are said to be the trendsetters, and obviously, the latest trends impact our choices. Today’s lifestyles are influenced strongly by these trends — picked up by selling propositions of brands. The malls reflect society’s demands, and in most cases, it breathes commercialism, necessity, and purpose.”

What if you live above the malls? Well, congrats, you can have just everything in a snap. Living near or above the malls offers many benefits: lifestyle, convenience, safety, entertainment and accessibility, and many others. Shopping malls are said to be the trendsetters, and obviously, the latest trends impact our choices. Today’s lifestyles are influenced strongly by these trends — picked up by selling propositions of brands. The malls reflect society’s demands, and in most cases, it breathes commercialism, necessity, and purpose.

As with convenience, from grocery, furniture to clothing, shopping would be accessible as a breeze since it would take only 5-10 minutes to have these done. More so, a wide range of cuisines and boutiques are available on any given day. Like the malls in Dubai, which are among the largest in the world, you would think you are not there for shopping but appreciating everything grand with thematic appeals floor by floor.

Noticeably, malls are very secure with round-the-clock security guards with 24×7 CCTV surveillance, which means that they offer utmost security adhering to your peace of mind. The entertainment provided in the malls includes cinemas, concerts, arcades, etc., which you have easy access to at any time. Due to distance, you no longer need any vehicle most of the time as you save transportation costs on a day-to-day basis.

“It is clear from what we have seen that malls in the Philippines are a magnet to luxury properties, and even if not, it is a clear indication that residential developments favor being as close to the malls.”

As it appears, properties near the malls or commercial complexes have premium, and this is because of the convenience they provide. Land values, depending on uses and zoning, define cost. While they come in pricey, it remains desirable to any given market. That’s why young urbanites prefer to be near Central Business Districts. It is not uncommon to find condo properties built adjacent and even above shopping malls in many areas worldwide. Especially in big cities, or even countries with limited land like Hong Kong, Malta, and Singapore, living within a mall is no longer a mere fantasy.

It is clear from what we have seen that malls in the Philippines are a magnet to luxury properties, and even if not, it is a clear indication that residential developments favor being as close to the malls. For example, the Mall of Asia in Pasay and the Ayala Business Park in Cebu have residential buildings. High-end residences surround the Greenbelt and the Glorietta malls, and Rockwell Shopping Center also has several facilities within its geographic advantage. Shangri-la Plaza in Mandaluyong has a couple few high-rise towers. Global Bonifacio City has structures all over, and Cubao and Ermita have developments next to shopping areas.

There was a time more than ten years ago that I would meet clients in a posh mall in Makati, especially that the project I was promoting was believably the tallest building in Makati then, is located right across the mall. I would prospect clients as well in fine dining restaurants, and I have had some success stories. Many of them were receptive to the idea of having an investment property near the A-rate mall. One British investor with a Filipina wife whom I have met instantly decidedly purchased a property without qualms and commented, “This is the kind of property that I would be willing to invest in. Even if I don’t rent it out, I’d love to come home to the unit everytime I’m in the Makati. I don’t have to go anywhere as the mall complex has everything.”

The said buyer was never wrong as sales take-up in the area is always record-breaking. Almost always, it is the same experience in many parts where the malls are, like this hotspot. It may have been only in the 90s and early 2000s that super malls became more popular, but the Philippines fully embraced this phenomenon. Even today, more and more developments within the Greenbelt complex are continuing to rise — they are expectedly sold out in no time.

Living around and above the malls. There’s no way of stopping the concept of living in the center. Precisely, the world gravitates to the center.


(Stevenson’sexperience in Philippine Real Estate spans more than 15 years. He has been involved in horizontal, vertical, vacation, and commercial properties. He has worked as an International Property Specialist to markets in Asia, Europe, and North America with Ayala Land, Federal Land, and Century Properties. ThroughPhil House Hunters, he offers real estate investment opportunities, marketing, and consultancy with a key focus on Metro Manila and Mega Cebu areas. Visit www.philhousehunters.com.Email at derodarsales@gmail.com.)

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