From an idle marshland to the Philippines’ foremost business and financial district, rapidly changing Makati is constantly reinventing and developing to make itself competitive. Acknowledging the need to respond to changing times, preferences, and lifestyles of its residents and users, the city is continuously improving to breathe new life into its dynamic, modern urban sprawl.
It is difficult to imagine a time when the Makati central business district (CBD) was a mere sprawl of idle marshland, but this is exactly how the city started – as a large portion of a Jesuit-owned land in rural Hacienda San Pedro de Macati before it was purchased by Don José Bonifacio Roxas (a member of the Ayala–Roxas family), developed into an airport in the 1940s, and today the Philippines’ foremost financial and business hub.
Over the course of the 20th century, Makati saw itself transformed, from a mere rural town of Manila to its incorporation into the Province of Rizal following World War II, until it became a municipality of Metro Manila when the latter was formally established in the 1970s. During the period, Makati has seen drastic changes in its landscape, an urban planning feat helmed by the influential Zobel de Ayala family. Today, this urban core and its immediate surround is now a vibrant commercial and business district home to exclusive gated communities, office skyscrapers, high-end condos, luxury hotels, and shopping malls.
Long-term vision is what sets Makati apart from other cities in Metro Manila. Acknowledging the need to respond to changing times, preferences, and lifestyles of its residents and users, the city is continuously improving to breathe new life into this dynamic, modern urban sprawl. After all, any master-planned community will fall into urban decay without proper planning and upkeep.
This is the reason why a comprehensive urban renewal project is currently underway in Makati. Under this development, six major urban nodes have been identified, each of which has its own character and product offerings. These urban renewal projects range from as simple as making the streets of Salcedo and Legapsi Villages more biker- and pedestrian-friendly, to more comprehensive and integrated developments, such as the Ayala North Exchange, One Ayala Avenue, and Circuit Makati.
While these urban renewal projects are underway, some parts of Makati are definitely benefitting because of their proximity to these developments. In recent years these areas already have their fair integrated developments that boast office, condo, and retail developments. One such area is Chino Roces Avenue or more commonly known as Pasong Tamo. This north–south road traverses a huge part of Makati, from its intersection with J.P. Rizal Avenue near Circuit Makati to the city’s boundary with Taguig in Fort Bonifacio. Along the way this 5.8-kilometer street serves busy neighborhoods, from residential to commercial to industrial. In recent years, some of the former industrial and commercial facilities along Chino Roces Avenue have been converted to high-end condo developments, providing property buyers and investors an affordable alternative to Legaspi Village.
Another Makati area that’s undergoing urban renewal of late is Brgy. Poblacion. This area is already a popular hangout place teeming with bars, gastropubs, and hotels, thanks to its proximity to Rockwell Center, Sen. Gil Puyat Ave., and Salcedo Village, it is also now a popular place for expats thanks to the many high-end condo projects here. The former site of International School Manila in Poblacion, for instance, has been redeveloped to what was now Century City, while the former A. Venue mall is now owned by Ayala Land and is being redeveloped into a high-end condo project as well.
Then there’s Brgy. San Antonio located north of Ayala Avenue, which is perhaps one of the places that benefitted greatly from the spillover effect from the CBD. Situated west of Ayala Avenue Extension to Osmeña Highway, this previously predominantly residential and industrial area is quickly gentrifying, with high-end condos, BPO offices, and retail developments now dotting its busy streets.
Makati’s transport infrastructure is also making the city very attractive to workers and corporate occupiers. The city can be easily accessed from the south of Metro Manila via two ramps (Don Bosco and Amorsolo) of the Metro Manila Skyway, while the completion of the latter’s Stage 3 segment provided uninterrupted access from Makati to Quezon City and the North Luzon Expressway.
Currently under construction is One Ayala at the corner of EDSA and Ayala Avenue. Sitting on a 2.8-hectare lot previously occupied by the Intercontinental Hotel Manila, this project will feature a three-level, 20,000-square-meter transport hub that will serve as a terminal for north-bound and south-bound buses, AUVs, the future Bus Rapid Transit, and jeepneys. This development will also feature direct connection to the MRT Line 3 and covered elevated walkways for commuters and pedestrians.
Then in 2018, the Makati city government entered into a partnership with private consortium Philippine Infradev Holdings to build the Makati Intra-city Subway, a 10-station underground rapid transit line that will link establishments across the city’s business districts and will provide connections to the existing MRT Line 3, Pasig River Ferry Services, and the under-construction Metro Manila Subway. As of December 2021, the Fiscal Incentives Review Board of the Department of Finance has approved the grant of tax incentives for this project’s rail operations, which is expected to begin in January 2026.
Upcoming office development
One of the upcoming Makati commercial buildings that will soon redefine the city’s ever evolving skyline is the Makati Commerce Tower. LEED Gold-certified (aspiring for Platinum), this next-generation Grade A office tower will welcome its first tenants occupiers in the third quarter of 2022, the building will become a landmark for innovation and sustainability.
Conveniently and strategically located along Sen. Gil Puyat Ave., this upcoming green development will be highly accessible from both Ayala Avenue and Osmeña Highway, with the latter providing easy access to the Metro Manila Skyway.
According to Joey Roi Bondoc, Colliers Associate Director and Head of Research, more companies in the Philippines are now looking for sustainable and healthy work environments that will give confidence for their employees to return to workplaces, an important consideration in a post-Covid-19 world. But aside from providing workspaces that promote employees’ health and well-being, companies must also make sure that these workplaces are easily accessible via any means of transportation and are located strategically close to residential developments, features that the Makati Commerce Tower has. After all, while there is indeed a great many conversations about keeping workers safe and well while in the office, it is about time that we start one about how to get them to the office quickly, seamlessly, and safely.