When it opens by the first quarter of 2013, the new community center of Ayala Land, Incorporated (ALI) in Talisay City, Negros, will offer a wide range of dining and retail choices to those who live and work in the area. The soft-spoken residents will hopefully be able to limit their trips to nearby Bacolod City since The District North Point in Talisay City will have almost everything they need.
The 26,725-sq-m property will have two clusters of retail establishments. A one-story building connected to the anchor supermarket, Metro Gaisano, will be situated at the northern end of the lot while a second building will feature select retail and service concepts to address the needs of the market. There will also be a mix of dining establishments with provisions for al fresco dining.
At the turnover ceremonies to the center’s merchants held last week, Inquirer Lifestyle was able to talk to officials of ALI as well as several merchants who were optimistic that The District would attract its intended target market of residents, businessmen and local and foreign tourists.
The strategy of ALI is to develop mixed-use properties, and The District is no different. Even before construction started on the community center, residential subdivisions were already part of the master plan. In fact, the land is bounded to the south by the Gen. A. Lacson Extension spine road leading to the Ayala North point, Verdana, Plantazionne and Verdana Asya subdivisions. The third component of this mixed-use property is the BPO building located within The District.
“It reminds me of the Alabang Town Center,” ALI vice president and head of operations for commercial business group Rowena Tomeldan said.
“When we opened that years ago, it was a community center, and then it grew into what it is now. We see that happening with North Point; it will develop depending on the needs of the community,” she added.
At the moment, there are as yet no plans to incorporate cinemas at The District but Maria Corazon G. Dizon, ALI vice president and head of business development and strategic planning for the commercial business group, said that this could change in the next few years.
“It really depends on how the needs of the North Point community evolve,” Dizon said.
Among the retail and dining choices at The District will be several homegrown brands like Calea and Café Bob’s, which are known for their tantalizing desserts, and BongBong’s, a popular pasalubong brand from Bacolod.
“Whenever we open a new retail center, we make it a point to advocate 10-15 percent of local concepts. At the moment, these are the three brands that have signed up with us,” Tomeldan said. At the event last week, 50 percent of the spaces had been committed.
Calea proprietor Ging Consing already has a couple of branches in central Bacolod but decided to lease out a space at The District “to cater to customers based in the northern end of the city and beyond.”
Asked whether she thought the branches might compete with one another, she said she did not anticipate any problems of the sort “because each offers its own distinct ambiance, and our newest addition will be given a personality of its own.”
During a brief trip to Bacolod last week, this writer was pleased to see that the Calea branch on Lacson Ave. was filled with locals who proudly patronized one of their own. A refrigerated and expensive-looking display showcased the store’s different cakes, including bestsellers like the imported Chocolate Cake, the Blueberry Cheesecake and the White Chocolate Cheesecake.
“My vision in establishing Calea was to offer reasonably priced desserts without sacrificing quality. Even as our selection has expanded over the years, I still take pride in the fact that every cake we produce is homemade and handmade,” Consing said.
Metro Retail’s Ed Ponce was also looking forward to the opening of the first Metro Gaisano branch in Bacolod because of what they can offer the community—a wide selection of fresh fruit, meat and vegetables as well as nonfood items like clothes and small appliances. Like other Metro Gaisano branches, the product mix is divided into 60-percent food and groceries and 40-percent nonfood items.
“We will work with the available space, but we have the option to expand vertically and horizontally when the time comes,” Ponce said.
The year may be coming to a close but ALI shows no signs of slowing down. In the next few weeks, they are opening a new and improved Glorietta in Makati City, the Centrio mall in Cagayan de Oro City, and another community center dubbed The District Cavite.