Real Estate Remains Resilient

Asia’s real estate sector is on the road to recovery, offering exceptional opportunities for investors in the region.

The real estate sector in the Asia-Pacific (APAC) region is projected to stabilize in the second half of 2023, on the back of improving macroeconomic conditions. Experts predict that as inflation eases and interest rates reach their peak, investors in the region will have exceptional opportunities.

Several key themes have emerged across the real estate markets in the region. Offices will continue to be the go-to asset class although the pandemic has had a deep and lasting impact on how people work and the concept of the workplace. A joint report by PwC and Urban Land Institute reveals that the demand for modern, high-quality office buildings remains strong, even as hybrid and remote work practices continue. Additionally, multifamily build-to-rent developments are gaining traction in APAC, with investors exploring opportunities in Australia and China.

Meanwhile, although Singapore remains an attractive destination for foreign investors, emerging markets such as Indonesia, the Philippines and Vietnam are gaining momentum. These markets offer high rates of economic growth and boast emerging consumer classes, according to the report.

Sustainability Considerations Transform Real Estate

In the Philippines, the real estate sector is evolving to the next level, with one of the largest property developers in the country, Ayala Land, Inc. (ALI), leading the transformation. The group’s commitment to sustainability is evident in the projects it undertakes—from its integrated mixed-use developments to luxurious residences spearheaded by its two business units Ayala Land Estates and Ayala Land Premier.

“Our vision extends beyond real estate development,” says Robert Lao, Group Head of Ayala Land Estates. “We aim to create thriving sustainable communities that provide diverse growth opportunities and inclusive spaces to all. It’s about planning for a mix of developments and spaces that nurture the environment, social and economic growth.”

Boasting a robust portfolio spanning over 45 sustainable estates across the country, ALI is the mastermind behind the nation’s most prominent mixed-use developments, including the Makati Central Business District, Bonifacio Global City, Cebu Business Park and Nuvali.

Indeed, sustainability is a common theme across markets in Asia as investors are placing a greater emphasis on Environmental, Social and Governance (ESG) criteria and ratings of real estate. Over in Hong Kong, Sun Hung Kai Properties (SHKP) is transforming the city’s skyline with its iconic and environmentally friendly developments. Its latest project, the High-Speed Rail West Kowloon Terminus Development (XRL Development), aspires to be more than another office complex, combining work and leisure elements for the well-being of tenants. Designed by Zaha Hadid Architects, the XRL Development incorporates low-carbon design and materials, including photovoltaic panels at roof levels and portions of the facade.

The project has received numerous sustainability accolades including LEED Platinum, BREEAM Excellent rating, BEAM Plus (Platinum), WELL (Platinum), China Green Building Label (3 star) and China Healthy Building Label (3 star).

As real estate investors look ahead, many will be drawn to APAC’s resilient and dynamic market with cautious optimism.

West Kowloon’s CBD Blossoms

Sun Hung Kai Properties enhances West Kowloon’s transformation into Hong Kong’s leading business district with the iconic High-Speed Rail West Kowloon Terminus Development.

The varying tower heights of the XRL Development maximize unobstructed views across Victoria Harbour toward Central while their crowns create highly visible signage opportunities for anchor tenants.

In a city celebrated for its skyline, established Hong Kong-headquartered developer Sun Hung Kai Properties (SHKP) reimagines a more holistic way of working. With well-being acknowledged as paramount to good health, its High-Speed Rail West Kowloon Terminus Development (XRL Development) aspires to be more than another office complex. Indeed, the mandate is nothing less than to encourage work-life balance through singular design and outstanding connectivity.

The XRL Development is sited on the topside of Hong Kong West Kowloon Station and is designed by Zaha Hadid Architects, founded by Pritzker Prize laureate Dame Zaha Hadid. The form resembles a bouquet of flowers welcoming travelers as they emerge from the Express Rail Link Terminus and observe a complex comprising 2.6 million square feet of office space. Two sets of twin office towers join at the podium with 600,000 square feet of multi-level retail space. A generous void between the twins encourages breezes and natural ventilation. Within the towers, ceiling heights of nearly 10 feet allow natural light to permeate every floor. Large plates yielding up to 72,000 square feet facilitate flexible planning for large corporations or budding startups. Stretching upward at staggered heights to maximize unobstructed views, the towers layer West Kowloon’s skyline and contrast with SHKP’s 118-story International Commerce Centre (ICC) and the adjacent skyscrapers.

“Financial services giant UBS signed in 2022 and plans to move into the XRL Development by 2026,” says K.W. Lo, SHKP General Manager of Office Leasing. The Swiss bank intends to consolidate its Hong Kong operations by occupying approximately 250,000 square feet in the new complex. “It reflects the company’s confidence in the future of the Hong Kong SAR, SHKP, the location and the product.”

Pledge Toward Green

UBS’s commitment to SHKP is also a commitment to its staff members. When the company relocates to the XRL Development, it will occupy premises with a host of sustainability accolades including LEED Platinum, BREEAM Excellent rating, BEAM Plus (Platinum), WELL (Platinum), China Green Building Label (3 star) and China Healthy Building Label (3 star). In line with the Hong Kong SAR Government’s Climate Action Plan 2050, SHKP’s efforts toward carbon neutrality translate into lowcarbon design and materials. Reliance upon the city’s grid is minimized through biofuel generators and integrated photovoltaic panels at roof levels as well as portions of the facade. Green roof gardens, balconies and terraces reduce solar gain. Further, ESG is woven throughout the management with smart building technologies including Internet of things (loT) and building information modeling (BIM).

The XRL Development offers large floor plates with spectacular views resulting from their unique petal design by Zaha Hadid Architects, adding a layer between the Express Rail Link Terminus in front and the ICC with surrounding skyscrapers behind.

The green aspects of the XRL Development extend to how it is landscaped. Conceived by Gillespies and detailed by Urbis, multiple layers of green space add balance and proportion to the complex. The terraces’ undulating silhouette references the gentle contours of the Express Rail Link Terminus, encouraging meandering strolls. Those wishing to enjoy the sea breeze can continue along the nearly one-mile-long West Kowloon Parkway, a direct link to the waterfront promenade of West Kowloon Cultural District (WKCD). This flow between work and leisure fosters well-being for tenants.

“The transit-oriented development’s (TOD) benefits to well-being are considerable,” says Lo. “ICC’s opening coincides with a rising median income for the district that encompasses West Kowloon in the past 15 years. This correlation indicates that more top executives are now living and working in the district. West Kowloon is becoming a real community, and we see the XRL Development enriching its appeal.”

TOD Benefits Well-Being

For busy people—and that is just about everyone in Hong Kong—well-being is often equated with time gained. With eight hours daily spent on sleep and work, plus a few more for necessary activities, it is no wonder that commuting is often the culprit robbing quality of life. TODs shorten commuting time. The XRL Development’s walking proximity to the thriving ICC community means that it can leverage the resources established there in the past 15 years. Proximity to luxury residences, 5-star hotels, gourmet restaurants, local and international retail brands, a waterfront promenade with breathtaking views: all of these work-life balance elements are what executives seek when they consider grade A office spaces.

Excellent infrastructure further influences whether deals get done. The XRL Development has it in spades. For companies with business in mainland China, the Express Rail Link downstairs connects to 58 cities across the border. Shenzhen is a 14-minute train ride away, while Guangzhou is a breezy 46-minute journey. Hong Kong International Airport is two stops away on the Airport Express Line via Kowloon Station next door, where passengers can take advantage of the in-town airport check-in. Central is even closer: just one metro station via the city’s MTR system. Its Austin Station beside Express Rail Link conveniently links Kowloon and the New Territories beyond. Factoring in the green benefits of quick, efficient and inexpensive public transit aboard Hong Kong’s intermodal network, the XRL Development’s connectivity is second to none.

“With the Greater Bay Area literally on the doorstep of the XRL Development, heading to a meeting in Shenzhen or a conference in Guangzhou could not be more convenient,” says Lo.

Art Sparks Life

Well-being is further enhanced by the XRL Development’s short walk south to WKCD. An international hub for visual and performing arts, it is a must-visit destination dotted with cutting edge structures. Chinese opera has a permanent home in Xiqu Centre, 20th century art and architecture are showcased at M+, and priceless treasures are displayed at the Hong Kong Palace Museum. Those keen to understand an Asian perspective on contemporary art have discovered shows, concerts and exhibitions in the hilly contours of its parklands.

SHKP will soon add to WKCD with the development of Artist Square Towers (AST). The project, won through tender in late 2022, will feature three commercial towers totaling nearly 700,000 square feet of office space with close to 27,000 square feet of retail, dining and entertainment offerings. The AST and XRL Development encourage West Kowloon to blossom as an integrated commercial, cultural and transportation powerhouse—a true extension of Central.

“Our growing portfolio of corporate properties in West Kowloon offers tenants more choices to meet their needs and aspirations,” says Lo. “Many will be reassured by our longstanding commitment to excellence and innovation. The dynamism of West Kowloon extends Central—it is increasingly a preferred international business address.”

Spurring Growth And Elevating Lifestyles With Top-Tier Developments

As the burgeoning Philippine real estate landscape continues to transform with the times, pioneering developer Ayala Land leads the evolution—from building new growth hubs to redefining luxury living.

Ayala Land’s mixed-use estates as centers of dynamic communities

The Philippine real estate sector is evolving to the next level, bolstered by the leadership of Ayala Land, Inc. (ALI). The developer’s sterling track record in advancing innovations can be seen across a broad range of developments, all set within master-planned, integrated mixed-use estates. The company’s expertise in seamlessly integrating diverse residential, retail, office, hotel and leisure properties has led to successful, self-sustaining communities that serve as catalysts for progress and contribute to the nation’s growth.

Shophouse lots for enterprises with spaces for residential use

The group’s commitment to sustainability is ingrained in every aspect of its operations. By embedding environmental consciousness in its strategic approach, the company’s mixed use integrated estates ensure its developments leave lasting, positive impacts. These developments not only appreciate in value but also create a platform for businesses and investors to flourish. By generating jobs and enhancing the overall quality of life for their immediate and neighboring communities, they foster a harmonious blend of progress and eco-friendly living.

“Our vision extends beyond real estate development,” says Robert Lao, Group Head of Ayala Land Estates. “We aim to create thriving sustainable communities that provide diverse growth opportunities and inclusive spaces to all. It’s about planning for a mix of developments and spaces that nurture the environment, social and economic growth.”

As Asia-Pacific’s real estate sector recovers from the pandemic, with expected growth into 2023, Ayala Land Estates positions itself as a frontrunner in this trajectory. In an era where eco-friendly practices are paramount concerns, the group leads by example.

Boasting a robust portfolio spanning over 45 sustainable estates across the country, ALI is the mastermind behind the nation’s most prominent mixed-use developments, including the Makati Central Business District, Bonifacio Global City, Cebu Business Park and Nuvali.

The company’s latest investments are in Arca South and Parklinks, vibrant mixed-use communities with thoughtfully planned parks, pedestrian-friendly pathways, and proximity to key business districts and urban hubs. Showcasing the best of the developer’s expert synergies, Arca South and Parklinks set the stage for ALI’s newest selection of prestigious projects, providing residents and locators with truly world-class and eco-conscious lifestyles.

Elevating the Standards of Luxury Living

Artist’s perspective of Ayala Land Premier’s Gardencourt Residences at sunset

As ALI’s luxury property developer, Ayala Land Premier (ALP) has established itself as the benchmark for luxury living in the Philippines. With a rich legacy of over 80 years, ALP properties are consistently acclaimed for their design, construction and property value appreciation. ALP’s commitment to the high bar it has set extends beyond the immediate comforts of the company’s developments.

Mike Jugo, Head of the Residential Business Group Premier Segment and President of Ayala Land Premier, says, “We take pride in fulfilling the needs of our valued clients and investors.”

Artist’s perspective of Parklinks North and South Towers at dusk

Arca South’s fresh and modern setting perfectly complements ALP’s premium outlook, with surrounding linear parks integrating lush greenery within the landscape. Gardencourt Residences (GCR) offers a coveted location along Arca Main Street Park, providing residents with green views from their balconies. Diverse retail and dining options are all a pleasant walk away. GCR also boasts a nearly 6,000-square-meter central courtyard comprising lawns, pools and gardens. Its central location within Arca South ensures significant convenience and potential value appreciation.

The Parklinks North and South Towers stand proud within the dynamic new estate. The area’s prime central location, lush parks, and pedestrian- and bike-friendly paths complement ALP’s innovations and commitment to excellence. The towers are a showcase of architectural sophistication amid a riverfront setting that is naturally tranquil yet easily accessible.

Paolo Viray, COO of Ayala Land Premier, expresses his enthusiasm for the company’s latest developments, saying, “Gardencourt Residences and the Parklinks towers’ unique parkside and riverside locations, meticulously designed spaces, and exceptional amenities offer a fresh take on urban living.”

Building Communities for Long-Term Value and Growth

Artist’s perspective of Parklinks North Tower corner residence

ALI’s unified vision brings together its expertise in developing and priming integrated mixed-use estates and developments that are committed to enhancing both their surroundings and the lives of those who reside and work in them. As a collective force, ALI forges ahead in driving real estate in the Philippines as it continues to open up commercial, industrial and residential property growth and investment opportunities. The reliable appreciation of value across ALI projects is what has solidified its track record as the developer others aspire to emulate.

True to its sustainability thrust, by embracing the latest green practices while delivering exceptional experiences, ALI raises the standards of property development where productivity, investment value appreciation and elevated quality of life coexist seamlessly. Investors scouting for resilient and dynamic markets will find unmatched potential for progress in the Philippines, most notably in Ayala Land Estates.


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