PROPERTY giants Ayala Land Inc. (ALI) and AboitizLand earmarked P10 billion for the initial phase of their latest joint venture project in an old football field in Mandaue City, which will start operations by 2019.

Through Cebu District Property Enterprise Inc. (CDPEI), the joint venture company intends to develop Gatewalk Central, a mixed-use project that will consist of an Ayala mall, residential towers and office spaces inside a 17.5-hectare lot in Barangay Subangdaku with access to national roads Lopez Jaena St., M. Logarta St., and Ouano Ave.

Company officials, together with Cebu Gov. Hilario Davide III and outgoing Mandaue City Mayor Jonas Cortes led the groundbreaking of the project yesterday afternoon.

“We (ALI and AboitizLand) have worked together for the concept. When we see opportunities with business groups, (we pursue it) to further create value and bring in more employment,” said Aniceto “Jun” V. Bisnar, Jr., president of Ayala-affiliate Cebu Holdings Inc.

Gatewalk Central will be ALI’s fourth major mixed-use district in Metro Cebu, following the Cebu Business Park, Cebu IT Park and an upcoming development in Mactan. Meanwhile, it will be the 20th development of AboitizLand in Cebu over a diverse portfolio of integrated residential communities, commercial pockets and industrial parks such as Mactan Cebu Economic Zone (MEZ), Pristina North, The Persimmon, and the Outlets.

According to AboitizLand president Andoni Aboitiz, both companies have already collaborated in the past for some residential projects.

Bobby Dy, Ayala Land president and chief executive officer, in a statement said the project dubbed as the “dynamic center of Mandaue” shows AyalaLand’s confidence in the city being one of the emerging cities in the region.

In an interview at the sidelines during the press briefing yesterday, AboitizLand chief operating officer Patrick B. Reyes detailed that the Aboitiz-owned lot, spanning 16 hectares, was purchased by the joint venture company CDPEI at a “50-50 setup.”

While under construction, the development is estimated to generate about 1,300 jobs. This figure is expected to rise to 9,000 jobs once the mall and the office spaces are operational.

One of the mall tenants will be Landmark for its department store operations. This will be its first expansion outside Metro Manila. Apart from Landmark, the mall will have a wide mix of popular global and local brands, family dining, and entertainment concepts.

A BPO building with a gross leasable area of about 20,000 square meters will be built on top of the mall and will open by the end of 2019.

For office spaces, Ayala Land offices head Carol T. Mills said the company has already received inquiries from multinational BPO companies that are interested to expand operations in Cebu.

At this point, Bisnar said the masterplan can be adjusted to the market demand, either for residential or office spaces.

For its residential component, Ayala’s Avida will initially build three towers consisting of 1,800 units scheduled for groundbreaking in the last quarter of this year.

On traffic concerns, Aboitiz said Gatewalk Central is seen to decongest traffic-prone areas in the city, being a new lifestyle and employment hub.

“We would let the Ayala brand come out more (in Gatewalk Central),” Aboitiz added.

Ayala Land said in a public disclosure that it is allocating a capex of P85 billion this year to support its planned developments while AboitizLand is intensifying its Luzon expansion with its acquisition of Lima Land in Batangas.