2 top firms to develop high-end Nivel project

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Wednesday, January 8, 2014


TWO Cebu-based conglomerates have banded together to develop what they hope will be a new landmark in the city’s hillside.

The PJ Lhuillier Group and MSY Holdings Corp. have formed Diamond Hiland Inc., which will develop a high-end residential property in Nivel Hills, Cebu City.

Called 128 Nivel Hills, the over 8,000- square-meter lot was the former location of the Casino Filipino. The development consists of 556 apartments covering over 71,000 square meters of residential space, three parking levels, retail shops, gardens and other amenities that would make high-end clients consider it home.

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They hope to distinguish their development as the premier address in Cebu by building a “modern iconic” building with the appearance of “shifting ovals.”

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Diamond Hiland general manager Nestor Omar Arce-Ignacio said the building is 250 meters above sea-level with unobstructed views of the city and visible from those arriving from the airport.

Consisting of three towers, 128 Nivel Hills will come in one-bedroom, two-bedroom, three-bedroom and four-bedroom units with a separate wing for the more exclusive loft residences. The smallest unit will have a floor area of 60 square meters with a starting price of P8 million while the largest unit could have an area of 390 square meters.

Diamond Hiland chairman Philippe Lhuillier said they acquired the property about six years ago but it took a long time for them to come up with a concept.

Initial plans were scrapped in favor of more upscale tastes, leading them to secure the services of Australian-based Crone Partners to design the building, as they were able to come up with a unique design similar to modern buildings in Abu Dhabi.

Company name

Vice chairman Carlos Yeung added that they decided on the name diamond because of their own businesses–the Yeungs are engaged in the diamond trade in Hong Kong while the PJ Lhuillier Group is the holding corporation of pawnshop and jewelry chain Cebuana Lhuillier. Yeung and Lhuillier have also been friends for 45 years and announced that they both plan to become neighbors by retiring in the penthouses of the 128 Nivel Hills.

The company will be shelling out P4.9 billion for the project, which will begin excavation works next month. It is expected to be completed in 2017. The east tower will be opening a few months ahead.

With Diamond Hiland being a new name in real estate, Ignacio said he insisted that their first development have an iconic design to add credibility to their company.

“An ordinary building will not put a name in the map of real estate developers,” he explained.

Solar paths, wind tests

They came up with three towers, the west tower having 42 floors, the east tower with 34 floors and garden residences with eight floors. They not only considered the code base requirements, but tried to go beyond this by employing different companies to do structural, mechanical and geotechnical assessments. They also studied the solar paths and conducted wind tests to ensure the sun is maximized for sustainability and that the structure can withstand strong typhoon winds and high magnitude earthquakes.

They have also enlisted the services of Jones Lang and Lasalle to manage the property and ensure the development lives up to the standards it has promised. Amenities include two swimming pools, study room, large lobby, concierge services, function rooms, library, gym, game room and screening room. A “floating garden” with nooks for reading and meditation will be in an area above the retail shops. The retail shops will be carefully selected to complement the needs of its residences and will have a separate entry to maintain the privacy of the residents.

Lhuillier said that they don’t want the property to be something buyers want to invest in, saying they want their buyers to actually live in the units they purchase.

Gigi Teves, Lhuillier’s senior adviser, added that they intend for the development to be “a home and not just a room,” which was why they made sure each unit was spacious and included all the features homeowners require.

“We believe Cebu is ready for a development like this. It has been ready for awhile now, but the market has not been able to deliver,” she said.

Market

Beyond local residents, Teves said top level managers of global multinational companies that have established their presence in Cebu are among their targeted buyers.

Although they are not yet pre-selling units, Teves assured that the location alone has sparked interest in many potential buyers and that they have begun receiving inquiries about the project. “That alone made us sure that Cebu is ready.”

Aside from the pawnshop chain, PJ Lhuillier also has holdings in hotels, real property, banking and a foundation. MSY Holdings, on the other hand, has developed a memorial park, a residential subdivision and is completing an office building. It has also established its own a foundation.

Published in the Sun.Star Cebu newspaper on January 09, 2014.

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