It feels like living in the sky in the grand penthouse in a luxury development in Ortigas. The three-story enclave offers a sweeping panorama of Manila Bay and Laguna Lake; an infinity pool on the rooftop, a glass-walled lounge, open space with double-height ceiling, and floor-to-ceiling windows that let the outdoor view in.
Also, it is walking distance to the malls, the hotels and central business district.
The 61-story St. Francis Shangri-La Place is practically sold out, except for a few penthouses. The place and lifestyle have become the calling card of Shangri-La Properties. The penthouses have a floor area ranging from 510 to 650 square meters, bigger than some houses in posh subdivisions.
St. Francis Shangri-La Place is part of the boom on luxury condominiums targeting the most affluent buyers. Developers are making the most of the increasing demand for such units. They believe that the market is strong for luxury condominiums given the 6.8-percent growth of the Philippine economy. The average buyers of Shang Properties are in their 50s, mostly Filipinos with businesses, and 20 percent foreign clientele.
After the St. Francis twin-tower, Shang Properties is putting up One Shangri-La, twin tower of 1,300 units on top of the Shangri-La Mall expansion (which will have 150 more high-end boutiques and restaurants).
It will launch Shang Salcedo Place, which will have 700 units. In the upcoming Shangri-La at the Fort, there will be service apartments and 97 luxury residential units, about 300 sqm in size, on top of the new hotel.
“We don’t know how to do anything else,” said Vicente Formoso, vice president for finance of Shang Properties Inc.
Generally, luxury condominiums that sell for P100,000 to P150,000 per sqm (without VAT) offer features that offer quality materials and superior finishes.
Because of its proximity to the active earthquake fault line and its exposure to strong winds, St. Francis Shangri-La Place became the first building in the world to install a “damping” system. Foreign engineers reinforced additional structure to manage the trembling and a viscous damper to control the wind-induced structural vibrations to a tolerable level.
Aside from the quality materials, inhabitants enjoy the luxury of space. The ceiling height of the rooms is 2.7 meters, higher than the average condominium. At the penthouse, the generous floor area enables the owner to add a den.
Unlike in the 20th century, today’s luxury condos provide larger units to attract families. Today’s buyers are buying them as main home or pied-à-terre.
The new luxury condominiums have increased amenities and services. St. Francis Tower’s clubhouse has function rooms, a karaoke room and billiard hall. The fitness center has over 50 machines.
The fitness center also offers the sauna, cold plunge pool and hot Jacuzzi.
A concierge service can do errands for tenants, and the maintenance staff is on call 24/7. House cleaning service can be had for a fee.
Residents like the convenience of shopping at Rustan’s supermarket and leaving their carts in the lobby to be picked up. Those who live in a luxury condo in an integrated center like being closer to work and enjoying the vibrancy of the shopping and entertainment.
“St. Francis Shangri-La Place has 994 occupied units out of 1,152 and a population of almost 2,000, but I’m amazed that you hardly see people in the elevator,” said Formoso.
The demand for the large new luxury apartments is constant, added Formoso, so that there seems to be no oversupply on the market.
“We launched St. Francis Shangri-La Place in 2005. By 2009, 90 percent of the units have been sold,” said Milen Treichler, marketing manager of Shangri-La Properties. “We’ve been selling One Shangri-La for two years now and 50 percent has been sold out. We’re on track. Many are repeat buyers. It means that they were happy with us and are willing to buy from us again. It’s cheaper to buy when the project is in its infancy because you have longer payment terms.”
Asked how the sales team convinces first-time buyers, Treichler cited the reputation of the developer, its affiliation with the Shangri-La hotels and the track record. For instance, the first residential project, the 46-story Shang Grand Tower in Makati, was completed ahead of schedule.
“Most people would rather invest in real estate than hard solid assets,” said Formoso.
“In a city like ours, the only place to go is vertical. If you want to live in a new horizontal development like Santa Rosa, commuting is difficult, as it takes up too much time. People prefer to live close to the workplace. It’s for your quality of life,” said Formoso.
He added, in a development such as this, Shangri-La Properties is giving back the buyer the precious gift of time.