WHEN the pandemic hit Davao City March last year, different business sectors eventually got affected by quarantine, closures, and movement restrictions.
One of the sectors greatly affected by the pandemic is the real estate and infrastructure sector.
Engr. Hinesto V. Go, vice president for operations of Wee Eng Construction, Inc., believes that construction companies whose projects rely heavily on the real estate and private companies are severely affected by the pandemic.
“Lalo na tong sa (especially those working on) condo units, buildings, pag-abot sa pandemic usually nangaundang ang mga projects (when the pandemic erupted, their projects also halted) because the residents don’t like to see outsiders enter and exit their premises,” he said.
Although many companies on real estate in Davao City successfully powered through 2020, still there were a lot of industry challenges they needed to survive. Talking with Damosa Land, Inc. (DLI) first vice president Cary Lagdameo gave us a glimpse of the challenges they have to face but also the measures and unique initiatives they have to do last year.
According to Lagdameo, when the pandemic hit and it started manifesting economic impacts, they thought first of life and livelihood balance. This means to say that they decided to keep the employment of everyone currently working with them like their employees, construction workers, contractors, and service providers.
“We keep everyone’s safety and we keep their employment. Even up to today, we do regular testing for our frontliners,” shared Lagdameo. He added all their development projects that we’re ongoing when the pandemic hit were pushed through while those that they scheduled for groundbreaking and launching were temporarily put on hold.
With this mindset of life and livelihood balance, Lagdameo said they were able to continue with their projects having their clients’ needs in mind such as their Seawind, Fairlane, and Agriya project developments. “We also need to deliver to the customers. We need to realize their needs and thus the projects have to continue,” said Lagdameo adding that with the pandemic, they see the need to cater to the real estate needs of their clients.
“By continuing your projects, may trabaho, may pera ang tao,” Lagdameo said referring to the employments they tried to keep for the welfare of their workers.
On the other hand, Alsons Properties Assistant General Manager for Business Units Jolla Soriaga shared how they heavily invested in health and security measures for their employees such as shuttle services, PPEs, and internet support for those who were working from home. As for their clients, Soriaga said they strengthened their digital presence. “[This is] to ensure we can continue to work safely while efficiently serving our customers and delivering on our commitments to our stakeholders.”
In 2020, Alsons Properties continued with their real estate projects that put emphasis on being environment-friendly such as their Narra Park Residences in Tigatto and Northtown, a mixed-use township in Buhangin -- the latest phase of its residential community sits on a 30-year old orchard.
Looking forward to 2021
But despite the industry challenges, there are still positive things to look forward to -- projects that will continue to signify progress in the real estate landscape of Davao City.
DLI recently topped off Diamond Tower, a 15-storey office building of commercial spaces. Lagdameo said the project is 100% complete and is already on the leasing stage. Currently, there are BPO, financial services, and retail companies who expressed interest in leasing commercial spaces in Diamond Tower.
Meanwhile, the launching of their bridgeport project in Samal, which was originally scheduled in July 2020 will be moved to July this year. Lagdameo also said they are looking forward to working with their first international locator for 2021 in the Anflo Industrial Estate which primarily works in the coconut production.
Alsons Properties, on the other hand, plans to launch this year their biggest commercial project to date. “Located in the former location of the Madrazo Fruit Stand, Poblacion Market Central will house the best local goods, food brands and essential services,” Marga Rey-Gross, Alsons Properties marketing manager said.
Northtown’s first locator, CityMall, is also expected to start with their construction this year, said Rey-Gross.
Go, meanwhile, is glad that the government continues to implement its infrastructure projects as it will help boost other industries as well, including the real estate.
Executives in the real estate industry, though keen on pushing through with their development projects, recognize that Davao City is still under a pandemic. And so, Lagdameo said for 2021, the mindset of DLI is to be “cautiously optimistic”. Projects will still be pursued with a careful perspective.
For his part, Camella Manors Davao Operations Head Carlo Refamonte said they are looking forward to things bouncing back this year as they also remain bullish.
“With the advent of a vaccine, people will gain more confidence to do business. Economy will begin to move and so is real estate being one of the main economic drivers. We have taken time to rethink our direction moving forward and 2021 will be an important and transformative year for Camella Manors,” he said.
Alsons Properties sees 2021 as a year of adjustment for the industry. “In the real estate industry, developers are adjusting their products and services based on the expected new normal. Since consumers nowadays are choosier, our products and services need to deliver good value now and in the long term,” said Alsons Properties General Manager and Vice President Eric de la Costa.
Wee Eng Construction also sees that opening the infrastructure and construction industry will greatly help caution the impact of the pandemic.
“Dakung tabang ang construction sa ekonomiya kay siyempre makahatag og livelihood sa mga tao, makapamalit dayon sila sa ilang basic needs, at the same time ang mga tindahan makabaligya na pud kay naa nay mamalit (Construction is also a great help in the economy as it provides livelihood for some of the people who in turn could buy their basic needs, at the same time stores can also run because there are already consumers),” Go said.