Selling the vision

by Steve Van Derodar

| Photo via SDerodar

Many of us are very familiar with the ongoings of real estate developments happening in the market. Often, to our fascination, we follow them on the news and even look them up on websites. You are right; as always, some things are pretty extraordinary. How could developers magnetize us with their unique concepts and offer us larger-than-life projects that give us the persuasion to buy their offerings? The answer is, they sell the vision.

When The Palm of Jumeriah Dubai, or the more extensive series of developments called the Palm Islands, was conceptualized, it brought us to a new level of imagination that today’s real estate, owning can be from newly constructed artificial islands, private yachts, and a milieu of amenities all to the concept of privacy and comfort. Often, they are built-in new cities even if it means they had to build in on reclaimed land. Similarly, South Korea’s Songdo is everything artificial. It is a built from scratch “city in a box” purchased by the South Korean government for $40 billion and erected like a pop-up tent over the past 15 years. They built even the city’s ground upon was nothing but soggy marshes.

Whether live, work, play, urban plan design, urban oasis, pure leisure, or community integration intents, they all comprise what the vision is for the developers. Yet, these visionary approaches advance the building of communities and cities.

In an article from Forbes Magazine, Dr. Sarah Moser of McGill University comments, “I define new cities as urban mega-projects that are intended to be largely independent from existing cities and have their own industries. They are physically separate from existing settlements, in contrast to suburbs or gated communities.” Dr. Moser runs the world’s foremost research institute tracking new city development. The article noted that while humans have always intentionally built new cities, we have never made so many on such massive scales in many places in little time. This phenomenon has all the makings of a movement that will shape the political, social, and economic trajectories of the planet in the coming decades.

In Metro Manila alone, we often see townships and high-rise enclaves complete their work progression, fulfilling the bigger vision of the development. The Bonifacio Global City is a grand vision; we all saw the transformation. The government-owned lot and private co-ownership have resulted in a significant life-enhancing experience. It built economies; it brings efficiency to work, live, play connectivity. Outside Manila is nothing short of mega-developments such as Cavite, Batangas, Laguna, Tagaytay, Pampanga, etc.

“I define new cities as urban mega-projects that are intended to be largely independent from existing cities and have their own industries. They are physically separate from existing settlements, in contrast to suburbs or gated communities.”

-Dr. Sarah Moser, McGill University

Growth is experienced everywhere and in many emerging markets. While we can not mention all, it would be fair to say the most popular ones in Metro Manila and others outside Manila. The majority of these developments offer mixed-use and are testament to a true vision-enhancing our way of living. For decades, they have successfully created townships and communities due to the developers’ vision. These are some of the few recent and upcoming ones:

The master-planned mixed-use development of NUVALI, built to support sustainable living communities and allow people to thrive alongside nature. This integrated self-supporting eco-city is home to a vast gathering of residential neighborhoods, business spaces, including the LEED silver certified NUVALI One Evotech, prestigious schools, shopping centers, and the 150-room Seda Hotel. As a veritable stomping ground for outdoor adventure enthusiasts, NUVALI offers nature amenities such as its 35-kilometer mountain bike trail, a multi-functional lake, hiking paths, a wildlife and bird sanctuary, and Camp N teambuilding and camping grounds.

Manila Solar City
Manila Solar City is many cities in one, the intersection of multiple paradigms. Manila Solar City will be a new financial district with premium office space supported by top-of-the-line infrastructure and support facilities. The city is resilient, built to withstand tests from the elements without fail, ensuring that businesses and lifestyles are never compromised. Tiered development with cables and wiring safely nestled in a viaduct allows for operations to continue in the event of flooding. Buildings are built on piles and held to a strict code to minimize damage from seismic events. Manila Solar City is a generative city. Aside from being an economic engine, Solar City will also strive to produce as much power through renewable energies, neatly woven into the city’s fabric where possible. The main viaduct will be covered by photovoltaic cells generating 4 megawatts of power.

Horizon Manila
Centered in the heart of Manila Bay, Horizon Manila symbolizes everything Manila can be. It aims to rediscover and embrace the city’s role as the heart and soul of Filipino society by introducing a community-driven development. Through meticulous planning, forward-thinking design, and the seamless integration of intelligent, innovative technologies, it serves as a model not only for a better Manila but for the refined living Filipinos deserve. As the capital of the Philippines, Manila has seen many significant developments, featuring a rich history of constant betterment. Guided by systematic long-term plans, realistic strategies, and a clear vision to revive Manila’s legacy, Horizon Manila takes the next step in continuing this dynamic development history.

New Manila Bay City of Pearl
New Manila Bay City of Pearl, located at the heart of Manila, is a shining jewel in the ocean. The city, connected via the main boulevard, with a loop road network and an advanced driverless railway system circulating throughout the district. The inner ring features the central park and golf course, while the outer ring looks out onto a breathtaking panoramic ocean view. Water taxis connect the North and South islands to other districts in Manila.

The Navotas Boulevard Business Park
The Navotas Boulevard Business Park is an under-construction commercial and business center in Navotas. It will rise on 650-hectare (6.5 km ) reclaimed land and has been under construction since 2019. The development envisioned creating a mixed-use community with residential, institutional, commercial, and industrial areas suitable for port facilities, marine, and tourism. Surbana Jurong designed its master plan.

ALVIERA, a 1,800-hectare integrated mixed-use development, is envisioned as the growth center of Central Luzon, which will have a commercial district, business and industrial park, university zones, retail centers, country club, and recreational areas, and residential neighborhoods. It is also a mixed-use development that will house IT and BPO industries, shopping centers, and dining places. The vision for Alviera is to establish an all-inclusive progressive growth center in Central Luzon to serve as a base for commerce and industry. Aside from residential and commercial projects, Ayala Land-managed Laguna Technopark will build a PEZA zone for industries similar to its own with Alviera.

“Selling the vision is what brings economies to the fore in response to rapid urbanization. I bet you will be experiencing them if not living in some of these developments at any given time. Call it an urban sprawl or expansions, they are the new cities of tomorrow.”

Learning all these, we observe one commonality. The vision always refers to the future of our communities, and sometimes, the future is the now. Truth be told that all we are seeing now are the result of the vision of all proponents in residential, commercial, and the whole integrated business in real estate development. It takes a great vision for projects and communities to thrive.

An exciting element in these developments is its commitment to sustainability. LEED Certified buildings are standard nowadays in many developments, and greening is a major component. While each offers a unique selling proposition, you can not underestimate what the master plan is for every community, even in its definition of a smart city. Expect technology, innovation, and efficient solutions to come into play to make it a more comfortable experience for everyone. The case of Songdo International Business District, as an example, utilizes a pneumatic waste disposal system. It means no garbage cans on street corners and no garbage trucks. Instead, they throw garbage into pipes that will suck the trash underground, dispose of waste, and recycle what can be recycled. It might not happen soonest in the Philippines, but who knows it can be a current reality?

Our world is constantly changing for the better. We discover new horizons and explore more and more areas of development. Selling the vision brings economies to the fore in response to rapid urbanization. I bet you will be experiencing them if not living in some of these developments at any given time. Call it an urban sprawl or expansions; they are the new cities of tomorrow.


(Stevenson’s experience 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. Through PhilHouseHunters, he offers real estate investment opportunities, marketing, and consultancy with a key focus on Metro Manila and Mega Cebu areas. Visit Email at

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