Destination: Talisay
Julie Cabatit-Alegre (The Philippine Star) - November 10, 2012 - 12:00am

MANILA, Philippines - It used to be the town that you passed through from Bacolod, the capital of Negros Occidental, on your way to Silay, which was known as the Paris of the East, with the elegant colonial houses of its landed sugar barons of an earlier era. Today, coming from Manila, you land in the spanking and spacious airport in Silay. This time, you don’t bypass Talisay on your way to Bacolod.

Talisay, now a city, is itself a destination.

We are in Talisay, together with a planeload of Manila-based merchants, here for the merchants’ preview of Ayala Malls’ latest development, the District North Point Commercial Center in Talisay City. Rowena Tomelda, Ayala Land VP and head for operations and support services, commercial business group, welcomed everyone who came despite the typhoon that was expected to blow in on the same day.

The District North Point in Talisay, north of Bacolod City, is the first community center in Talisay. Located along the national highway, which connects the cities of Bacolod, Talisay and Silay, the mall is adjacent to the Ayala North Point residential subdivisions.

“It is tailor-made for the needs of the residents,” Tomeldan remarked. Providing basic shopping, dining, and other leisure activities in a beautiful setting, it is envisioned to become the “favorite gathering place of the Negrenses.”

More than 60 percent of the 140 spaces for lease have been committed and turned over to the Manila-based retailers as well as local merchants. The Gaisano supermarket and department store will be the anchor store. The master-planned development includes two clusters of retail and service establishments, with dining spaces for casual as well as al-fresco dining that would cater not only to shoppers but also to the office workers from the BPO building nearby.  Within the mall’s total area of 26,725 sqm.will be a natural landscaped central park. Typical of Ayala malls, there will be an activity area where people can converge for special events and presentations.

The lifestyle here is generally laid-back but also cosmopolitan, Cora Dizon, Ayala Land vice-president and head for business development and strategic planning, commercial business group, observed. Many of the people are well-traveled. They have a developed sense of taste. They go for the finer things in life.

Dizon sees The District North Point mall as just the “right size” development, tailor-fitted to the needs of the community. She can see it “evolve over time,” as it responds to the market’s needs. Dizon cites the Alabang Town Center in Metro Manila as the template for this kind of development. “We are attuned with the market requirements,” she says, “and there is room for expansion.”

 “We are market-focused, especially when we develop new malls,” Dizon says. “We do not dislodge the community. We want to promote a sense of ownership, to make them feel like this is their own and not see us as outsiders.”

Ten to 15 percent of the space has been reserved for local concepts, both retail as well as food outlets, among them Café Bob’s and Calea, which are very popular among the locals.

 “We believe in the Ayala development,” says Cynthia and Bobby Magalona of Bob’s, which offers three food concepts: the restaurant, dating back to the 1960s and well-loved for their comfort food such as baby back ribs, sate babe with peanut sauce, and sizzling bangus; the pastry shop which is popular for their refrigerated cakes such as sans rival and Pavlova as well as freshly baked breads; and Café Bob’s.

They saw the development moving northwards from Bacolod, where their stores are presently located, so when they were invited by Ayala to be part of the development, they accepted. “We trust the partnership,” they said. “We are known for our good food and hospitality, and we would like to promote these Negrense attractions through our restaurants.”

Popular Manila-based retail stores such as Bench and Penshoppe also did not hesitate to join the bandwagon. “We did not want to miss the opportunity,” says Jude Ong of Bench, which has 280 stores nationwide.

 “Ayala malls are well-planned and are found in good locations,” he says. “With their good name and track record, they are sure to succeed.”

“Ayala malls have a good tenant mix of both foreign and local brands,” Dino Sagun of Penshoppe observes. Penshoppe is a local brand that is able to “level up” and compete with other foreign brands. It has also developed into a multi-brand that includes Oxygen, Memo, ForMe, and Regatta, which cater to different markets. The good thing about Ayala Malls, Sagun says, is that it is able to capture a broad market, from A to C. They have partnered with Ayala malls in their various locations, with five stores in Abreeza in Davao, five stores in Marquee Mall in Pampanga, two stores in Harbor Point in Subic, and three stores in Centrio in Cagayan de Oro.  “We are confident with their business model,” Sagun says.

While the present market of the residential community center may not as of yet be as dense, Bim Sebastian of the Robinsons Retail Group says, “We are watching out for the future. In two to three years, we will be well-positioned.” He is thinking of bringing in a hardware retail store such as Handyman to the mall. “It is a reliable and mature brand,” he says, and will suit the mall’s upscale residential market.

The District North Point is scheduled to open in the first quarter of 2013. It is something the Negrenses can look forward to. “See you on opening day,” Tomeldan said.

 

0PT AYALA BACOLOD DISTRICT NORTH POINT LEFT MARGIN
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