Rockwell prepares for the next wave

#MakatiCondo July 22, 2011

Lopez-owned Rockwell Land Corporation is currently exploring new market segments, particularly the upper-middle class segment and five-storey type of developments, as well as new areas to develop outside of Rockwell Center in Makati.

In an interview with The STAR, Rockwell president Nestor Padilla revealed that while they would not abandon the upper-end segment for which they have been identified with for years, the upper-middle segment, or those developments that are priced at between P5 to P10 million per condominium unit, appears to be a promising next step.

Now that there are very few spaces at the Rockwell area that remain undeveloped, Padilla said that the company is now in the process of identifying where to go to next. The remaining undeveloped piece of land, originally meant to be the site for a hotel, beside the Power Plant Mall, will probably be devoted for the expansion of the mall, he added.

“Maybe we will just expand the mall and put up another residential condominium at the Rockwell Center. After that, there will be nothing left to develop there,” Padilla said.

Rockwell’s top executive expects the company to do very well this year. “In 2009, we did well. In the first quarter of this year, our sales were very strong. And as long as the election happens, I think we will have a good year,” he said.

Padilla also expects more and more people to invest in real estate. “Right now, there is very little choice. What do they do with their money? The stockmarket is for the brave ones. So they are back to more traditional investments, like real estate,” he pointed out.

As part of the company’s move to diversify into new markets and new locations Rockwell embarked on its first land acquisition outside the Rockwell Center. It also entered into a joint venture agreement with Meralco for an office development inside the latter’s compound in Pasig.

In June 2007, Rockwell acquired a 5.4-hectare prime property along C-5 in Pasig City from General Milling Corp. The project, called The Grove by Rockwell, was launched in Oct. 2008 to broaden the strong brand that Rockwell has been known in the industry. This will be Rockwell’s foray into the broader upper middle-income market.

The project will have six residential towers, two of which are scheduled to be delivered by 2012.

Padilla said that aside from plans to expand The Grove by acquiring an adjacent property, Rockwell Land also wants to look at smaller, packet developments (one-hectare property) where five-storey type of residential condominiums could be built.

“By nature, people would rather stay close to the ground. While a final decision has not been made on whether or not we will go into mid-rise developments catering to the upper-middle class and priced at somewhere between P5 to P10 million, we would want to stay within Metro Manila, particularly Ortigas, Makati and Fort Bonifacio,” he explained.

During the interview, Padilla noted that buyers would always prefer convenience, such as that everything is around them, “Everything is revolving around the malls. Just look at the developers that are building around these malls. And look at the buyers. They are very young. We are tempted to go into that market,” he said.

Rockwell Land was formed in 1995 with the primary task of transforming the old thermal plant property of the Lopez group into a high-end commercial business strict. It is 51 percent-owned by the Manila Electric Company (Meralco) and 49 percent by First Philippine Holdings Corporation (FPHC).

Rockwell Center, the company’s flagship project, sits on a 15.5-hectare site in Makati City. Considered as the country’s first self-contained, mixed-use community, the Center consists of seven (one under construction) high-rise upscale residential towers, three office buildings, a lifestyle shopping mall, a city club, and a leading business graduate school.

“It was the first self-contained mix use type of development. There were those who doubted if the concept will work. Even access to the property was a problem. We had to spend for the ramp from EDSA,” he said.

Edades Tower and Garden Villas will be the latest addition to the growing community in Rockwell Center. The 50-storey residential tower will rise across the Power Plant Mall and Amorsolo Square.

Edades will have six floors dedicated to serviced apartments. Likewise, the project features typical flats, lofts, and z-lofts – offering two different views of the cityscape from one’s unit, which Rockwell introduced to the local market in Number One Rockwell.

Following the 1997 Asian financial crisis, Rockwell was one of the first real estate developers to brave the start of the property up-cycle. In 2001, it introduced The Manansala — the first residential project on the east side of the Rockwell Center. It was launched to address the market requirement for smaller units.

This project was the first local residential development to be marketed in the then unexplored US Filipino investor market.

In Jan. 2004, following the success of The Manansala, another residential tower was launched at the east side of Rockwell Center – The Joya Lofts and Towers. The company again introduced a new innovative concept with the loft design. The spacious loft units, featuring 20-foot ceilings and ground floor retail shops, are its main attractions.

In March 2008, Rockwell Land signed a joint venture agreement with Meralco to develop office buildings on a 1.3-hectare site in its compound in the Ortigas which has as a “campus-like” environment with substantial open spaces to provide a more inviting atmosphere for the locators. The project is called the Rockwell Business Center (RBC) and Towers 1 and 2 were completed in August 2009. The buildings have a total leasable area of 47,132 square meters.