ONE of Cebu’s big names in business, the Gothong family, launched their first housing project last Friday, signaling their formal entry to Cebu’s upbeat housing sector.

Alpa Land Inc., the real estate arm of AD Gothong Group of Companies, launched Fontana Heights Residences, a 2.1-hectare subdivision project in Cubacub, Mandaue City.

“There is a backlog in horizontal (housing) and this encouraged us to go into this industry,” said Barbara Gothong-Tan, Alpa Land president.

The AD Gothong Group has been in food manufacturing with the long-running AD Gothong Manufacturing Corp. Originally, however, Tan said it was the Gothong employees who inspired the family to venture into the housing business when they learned that the housing prices in the market today do not reflect the kind and quality of houses they should be getting instead.

“Our employees were looking for houses for this much, but when you see it, it’s not worth their money,” Tan said, citing the size, affordability, and lack of ventilation, among other problems.

It was in 1996, said Alpa Land General Manager Al McWalter D. Lim, when the Gothongs formed Alpa Land Inc., but its projects were first limited to commercial buildings and a hotel, like the Alpa City Suites Hotel and Alpa Centrum in Mandaue, and the ongoing ADG IT tower also in Mandaue City.

For its latest project, Fontana Heights Residences, Tan said the company will expand the development as it acquired another hectare from an adjacent property.

The first phase of the project is expected to be completed in 2017. There will be 186 houses to build, expected to be completed next year.

Erik S. Ong, president of Ideal Builders Development Corp. and contractor of the Gothongs’ real estate projects, said it will take two to three years to complete the expansion.

For the Gothongs, Tan said the company will concentrate first on their first housing project, before developing more. She assured, however, that Alpa Land’s thrust in housing will be in horizontal developments, particularly for the mid-market, noting the abundant supply of vertical dwellings or condominiums in Cebu today.