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Villar developing 2,000-hectare business district

EVIA Lifestyle Center facade, featuring Villar group brands such as AllAmerican, AllBikes, and AllHome. — PHOTO BY KEREN CONCEPCION G. VALMONTE

By Keren Concepcion G. Valmonte, Reporter

REAL ESTATE tycoon Manuel B. Villar, Jr. said he is developing a 2,000-hectare central business district in the southern part of the Greater Manila.

“This is going to be my biggest project,” Mr. Villar told reporters at a virtual briefing on Friday. “It’s much bigger than Vista; it’s much bigger than any project I’ve ever done.”

The 2,000-hectare business district, which is being developed through the Villar Land, is “going to be bigger than Makati,” the businessman noted. It will be “expandable” up to 2,500 hectares.

“I want this to be the biggest and the best,” he also said.

The development may be accessed through a new light rail transit line. The Muntinlupa-Cavite Expressway “cuts across” the project, Mr. Villar noted.

“You’ll be surprised that it is in the center of 11 cities,” he said, adding that the project is located along the boundaries of Paranaque, Las Pinas, Muntinlupa, San Pedro in Laguna, Bacoor, Imus, and Dasmarinas of Cavite. “[It] will be seen as the heart of 11 cities.

Some of the retail components have already been built along Daang Hari Road in Las Pinas, such as Evia Lifestyle Center, SOMO (South of Molino) – A Vista Mall, and NOMO (North of Molino) – A Vista Lifestyle Center. Mr. Villar noted malls under listed Vista Land & Lifescapes, Inc. have already eclipsed pre-pandemic foot traffic.

The development will be outlined by parks and plazas. It will also include a market, the “trading center of the South.”

“There is no rush to do an IPO (initial public offering), there is no rush to develop this,” Mr. Villar said.

Meanwhile, the Villar group launched more than 20 new brands and concepts recently, as it had to innovate after some retailers in its malls were hit by the public health crisis.

The new brands include Napa, San Marco, Dear Joe, Roma, SOMO Market, Global Market, Green Centrale, Pet Buddies, KAL, No Name, All Green, Get All, All American, Shieldtech, Yummy Bakes, All Bikes, Pet Cafe, Sombrero, All Digital, Bread Basket, Boston Chicken, and Crossing Cafe.

“I want to create Filipino retail brands that are world-class,” Mr. Villar said in Filipino. The new brands will be featured in Villar Land.

The group will continue to use its “premiumization” strategy for the retailers, the businessman noted.

Other Villar-led listed firms, AllHome Corp. and AllDay Marts, Inc., will be opening 10 more stores each next year.

The Villar group also intends to take several of its companies public next year through small IPOs, depending on market conditions.

Mr. Villar said the group is planning to take its homegrown cafe business Coffee Project to the capital markets.

The Villar group launched several Coffee Project spin-offs this year, including the Ruined Project in Tagaytay. Mr. Villar said they want the Coffee Project to have over 100 stores by next year from its current 64 branches.

The group is also planning to launch a real estate investment trust (REIT) early next year, which will include office developments. Some of the buildings have limited commercial spaces. It was previously said that the REIT unit will be launched this year.

“It’s okay that the REIT was delayed because rates and occupancy are starting to improve,” Mr. Villar said in Filipino.

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