By Zinnia B. Dela Peña (The Philippine Star) | Updated June 24, 2013 - 12:00am
MANILA, Philippines - Philippine Amusement and Gaming Corp.’s Las Vegas-style casino and tourism complex Entertainment City has the potential to become the next major central business district in Metro Manila and replicate the success of Bonifacio Global City where demand for real estate properties has gone up significantly, according to the head of the state gaming firm.
Pagcor chairman and chief executive officer Cristino Naguiat Jr. said Entertainment City, located on 100 hectares of reclaimed land along Manila Bay, is not only poised to become the country’s premier gambling destination but is also seen to lead the next wave of growth in the metropolis.
Naguiat said real estate values in Manila have been on the uptrend especially with the ongoing development of the Entertainment City.
Property consultancy firm Colliers International said developers have been stepping up construction in Manila and Pasay as demand for residential properties in the area spiked up with the opening of the first of four integrated resorts planned within the complex.
The demand is mainly driven by foreign expats who have moved to the Philippines to work in Entertainment City, which is touted to become the region’s next best bet for tourism and gaming. Foreigners are allowed to own condominium units in the Philippines.
For this year alone, around 7,181 units from 18 new residential condominiums are expected to come online, 10 percent higher than the 2012 figure.
Naguiat said Pagcor owns more than 50 hectares of land within Entertainment City. It acquired the lot in 2008 for around P23,000 per square meter which is already more than double the current market value of P47,000 per sqm.
“Entertainment City may be the next Bonifacio Global City. Similar to Fort Bonifacio, lot prices in Manila are expected to go up further as new developments rise in the area. But the value will not rise without the casinos,” Naguiat said.
Pagcor has leased some of its properties within Entertainment City to Bloomberry Resorts Corp., the owner of the $1.2-billion Solaire Manila Resort & Casino which opened its doors to the public last March 16, and Travellers International Hotel Group of Malaysian conglomerate Genting Group and real estate tycoon Andrew Tan.
Apart from casinos and hotels, business process outsourcing (BPO) buildings and international schools have been sprouting in Manila to take advantage of the real estate boom being generated by Entertainment City.
Entertainment City is seen to attain even greater momentum once all four gaming proponents are fully up and running by 2016 or 2017.
In anticipation of the expected influx of new businesses in the area, Manila Electric Co. (Meralco) has sought the construction of a new P1.2 -billion substation to address the needed capacity of large load customers at Entertainment City.
Alphaland Corp. of businessman Roberto V. Ongpin is building an exclusive marina club along the western coast of Alphaland Bay City, located between SM Mall of Asia and Solaire. The project is scheduled for completion in the second quarter of 2014.
A short distance away from Makati and the Ninoy Aquino International Airport, Entertainment City’s strategic location is another prime attraction. The extension of the existing LRT Line 1 from Baclaran to Bacoor, Cavite and the construction of an elevated expressway linking the South Luzon Expressway to NAIA Terminals I, II and III are also expected to boost commercial activity in the area.
At full development, Entertainment City is expected to have the capacity to deliver up to $10 billion annually in gaming revenues as well as generate over 400,000 direct and indirect jobs. It is seen to attract at least a million tourists annually and capture 10 percent of the global gaming market.
“We are highly enthusiastic about Entertainment City and the impact it will have on Phiippine tourism. I believe the Philippine gaming industry has a long way to go in terms of revenue potential,” Naguiat said.
Aside from Solaire and Travellers, other gaming proponents setting up shop in Entertainment City are the group of Macau casino giant Melco Crown and tycoon Henry Sy’s Belle Corp., and Tiger Resorts Leisure and Entertainment Inc. of Japanese gaming tycoon Kazuo Okada.
Melco-Belle is slated to open its casino venture in October next year while Okada’s is slated for opening in the first quarter of 2015. Travellers, on the other hand, is scheduled to open Manila Bayshore by 2016 or 2017.