Developers of a new office tower in the strategic provincial location of Cebu are already sensing economic recovery.
Unlike Metro Manila where the pandemic caused significant project delays, Cebu City allowed construction to go on mostly uninterrupted in the past two years. Thus, newly completed office buildings like Latitude Corporate Center by listed firm Cebu Landmasters Inc. (CLI) have been entertaining a good number of potential occupiers expecting to make the most of forthcoming opportunities. CLI is the largest developer in the Visayas and Mindanao region.
Mikko Barranda, Leechiu Property Consultants director for commercial leasing, explains that many inquiries for space in Latitude have been from expanding businesses and IT-Business Process Management (IT-BPM) firms, particularly those in higher value Knowledge Processing Outsourcing (KPOs) work who want to lock in deals by 2Q 2022.
He noted: “Even at the height of the lockdowns, IT-BPMs took up office space. We expect them to continue doing so since outsourcing to the Philippines is a viable solution for recovering Western economies.”
KPOs, which require workers with more specialized skills, are particularly attracted to the labor pool of Cebu, the largest educational and economic hub in the South. Thus, the city draws talents from all over the Visayas and Mindanao.
Office space is also less costly in the southern metropolis than in key business districts in Metro Manila. For this same reason, some multinationals have chosen to locate their main headquarters in Cebu and not in the capital. Moreover, it is a favored disaster-recovery site for many IT-BPMs.
Entrepreneurs and large companies seeking more modern and convenient offices have also been inquiring about Latitude’s offerings. The building with 23 floors has attractive spaces for all three segments: five floors from the 8th to the 12th floors with 2,000-sq-m floor plates earmarked for IT-BPMs; three floors from the 14th to the 16th for large corporations needing expansive spaces; and eight floors from the 17th to the 24th for dynamic entrepreneurs needing smaller cuts.
Leechiu Property Consultant officers explain that for added security, there is a lobby and elevators dedicated to IT-BPMs who tend to operate at night; and another lobby and elevators for corporates and traditional offices. The separate lobbies mean shorter queuing in the elevators for all.
All occupants will also appreciate the sustainable features of the office tower which upholds the green building guidelines of Building for Ecologically Responsive Design Excellence (BERDE). These include a spacious plaza with a tree sanctuary, a sky lounge at the 14th floor, and a garden deck at the 17th floor which provide occupants breathing space and enhance their feelings of well-being. Retail areas in the ground and second floor are added conveniences.
Latitude’s key attraction, nonetheless, is its location within the Cebu Business Park (CBP), which is under the jurisdiction of the Philippine Economic Zone Authority. This allows IT-BPM occupants tax incentives.
Latitude’s location within CBP’s main thoroughfare Mindanao Avenue also means it is a short stroll to Ayala Center’s 500 retail and restaurant outlets and transport hub. Moreover, it will be very accessible to Cebu’s first five-star hotel to be operated by Sofitel and is set for completion in 2025.
Pending the opening of this prime Sofitel hotel, other tourism establishments are scheduled to be completed including two major casino resorts in 2022, more hotels to be operated by Radisson and other international chains thereafter.
These projects are also being complimented by major infrastructure improvements including the opening by Q1 2022 of the third bridge linking Cebu and Mactan. An expressway and bus rapid transit to ease congestion within the city are also opening within the same year.
“All these signal local confidence that recovery is just around the corner,” according to Leechiu Property Consultants’ Barranda.