A cosmopolitan center that continues to progress
Scott Garceau (The Philippine Star) - November 17, 2019 - 12:00am

As the leading financial and central business district (CBD) in the Philippines, Makati has become the epicenter of economic activity. Through the years, it has cultivated an environment of growth for corporations, industry leaders, and start-up companies as well. However, there is more to Makati than being a bustling business district and corporate center.

Makati has the highest daytime population in the Philippines and is home to a growing number of residents.  In 2012, the company announced that they will be investing P60 billion and later on added another P65 billion in 2014 to further enhance what Makati has to offer by developing the city’s six nodes. “Each node serves a specific purpose, all of them more or less mixed-use developments on their own,” says ALI project development manager Shiella Aguilar.

Ayala Land has identified six different pockets of Makati where residential, work, and street life intertwine organically.

At the heart of the city, we have the Makati CBD. It is a prime business address being home to a number of the biggest corporations in the Philippines, as well as accessible by the metro’s four major thoroughfares:  Epifanio de los Santos Avenue (EDSA), Gil Puyat Avenue, Arnaiz Avenue, and Chino Roces Avenue.

The Ayala Triangle Gardens, dubbed as the urban oasis, provides green open spaces within the city streets and skyscrapers. As a place of convergence, it offers space for an array of activities, from leisure and outdoor fun to pleasant dining experiences.

McKinley Exchange, known as the Transport Hub, gives people a gateway to the city by providing access to the Metro Rail Transit, buses, jeepneys, taxis, and shuttles.

Ayala Center is Makati’s lifestyle portal comprised of Glorietta and Greenbelt malls, world-class hotels, entertainment spaces, museums, and parks, all nearby the residential developments in Makati.

A 21-hectare mixed-use development on the former Sta. Ana Racetrack property of the Philippine Racing Club Inc. (PRCI) is where Makati’s entertainment node sits. Circuit Makati offers residential developments, Ayala Malls, Circuit Makati Skate Park and Blue Pitch, Black Box Theater, and soon a 1,500-seater performing arts theater.

At the northern end of Ayala Avenue is Ayala North Exchange, which features shopping and dining spaces, offices, and serviced apartments. It is accessible through the elevated-walkway along Dela Rosa Street.

Living in Makati CBD

Mixed-use developments encourage diversity in the community, and that is what Ayala Land wants to cultivate in Makati.

There are many people who grew up in post-war Makati who still remember when there was street entertainment on the weekends: back in the ’50s, in neighborhoods like Poblacion, movies would be projected on the sides of trucks, and kids and families would flock around on the weekends just to watch and hang out. It was safe and it was fun.

Manny Blas, Ayala Land Vice President and estate head for Makati and BGC, was one of those kids; and he thinks Makati has a great opportunity now to transform itself into a place where the streets are alive and active, even when the 9-5 crowd has evaporated to their commutes and outer subdivisions.

That’s because Makati’s permanent resident population is growing fast: while some three million people come and go during the day for work, shopping, eating or other needs in the CBD, close to 600,000 people have chosen to make Makati their everyday home. The residential space has increased from 32 percent to 40 percent of total gross floor area in Makati CBD. Adding to this mix are Ayala Land’s recent residential projects in Makati: Park Central by Ayala Land Premier, Parkford Suites by Alveo, and One Antonio by Avida, among other developments.

It’s normal to ask: What do Makati Residents like to do on weekends? For Blas, who helped implement the masterplan of BGC to draw residents to the streets for food, art, music and pedestrian-friendly activities along Bonifacio High Street, Makati posed a different challenge: “We began to think: How can we activate the streets on weekends?” While there were plenty of malls, parks such as Ayala Triangle Gardens, as well as Salcedo Market and Legazpi Market where vendors sell organic foods, there weren’t many venues for people to enjoy the experiential side of Makati and be in the company of neighbors.

“Makati’s got its own rhythms and patterns already, and it’s very hard to change that,” notes Blas. “So instead of doing it on a massive scale, we tried it on a pinpoint scale — what’s called tactical urbanism.” Focusing on three Makati streets, Ayala Land closed a portion of Paseo de Roxas street every first Sunday of the month. Food trucks, stalls, buskers, and various activities were brought in and it drew in crowds. It caught on quickly, thanks in part to Makati’s strong social media platform (over 550,000 followers on Facebook). “We did it on weekends, on days with less traffic,” notes Blas. “We started with 3,000 people on Sundays, then we started hitting huge numbers. One weekend, it was 15,000.” Following the success of the Makati Street Meet at Paseo de Roxas, this event was brought to other streets in Makati.  Rada Street, an area already close to parks and the Legazpi Sunday Market, was the next street that was activated. Every Sunday, kids can enjoy this street playground at Rada where they can ride their bikes and participate in various activities. The Street Meet at Carlos Palanca, where hip bars that draw the younger crowd are located, followed suit. An Oktoberfest-themed Makati Street Meet was organized and restaurants were given a chance to put tables outside so that neighbors and other members of the community can interact with each other.

The idea was to bring back that sense of community — in the streets.

“In the Makati CBD, we are now focusing on what we can do at the street level,” Blas says. “We want to complement its impressive buildings by having people spend more leisure time on the streets.”

Street Meets

Every first Sunday of the month, Paseo De Roxas to Villar is blocked off and becomes a street fair, with food trucks serving tacos, hotdogs and ice cream, vendors selling local handicrafts, organic beauty products and oils, and a host of other finds. About 5,000 people move around the covered tables on foot, skating or bicycling to rediscover the surrounding neighborhood. Close to Ayala Triangle Gardens, this Street Meet changes its theme every month, from food to music, so expect something different for families and the general public each time.

With the help of Makati Central Estate Association (MACEA), the Rada and Carlos Palanca Street Meets have been implemented. Since last August, on Sundays from 7 a.m to 5 p.m., Rada Street between Legazpi Active Park and Washington Sycip Park transforms into a kid-friendly urban playground: already an attractive spot for parents shopping for organic foods at nearby Legazpi Sunday Market, the street now features a mini bike obstacle course, chalk art station with blackboards and kiddie tables, and a game station for kids two to eight years old.

Started last September, the Makati Street Meet at Carlos Palanca is already attracting a hip, crowd. Each location of the Makati Street Meet has a different target market. Carlos Palanca is already home to vibrant establishments restaurants, bars and fitness studios – who support and actively participate the street activation. Younger urban professionals and residents in the neighborhood are drawn to the beer tastings, food samplings, music sessions and hip restaurants. By popular demand of the residents and establishments in the area, the Makati Street Meet at Carlos Palanca will now be done regularly.

Walk the Talk

According to Aguilar, transportation will be key in the coming years, whether it’s more organized AUV (Asian Utility Vehicle) and bus setups in key areas of Makati — to cut down on the chaos during commuting hours — or the expanded covered walkways parallel to Ayala Avenue, which extends all the way from Greenbelt to Makati Medical Center. Also in collaboration with MACEA is the Villar Underpass. It is currently under construction to connect some 18,000 daily pedestrians from Ayala Triangle Gardens to Paseo De Roxas, the renovated Legazpi Underpass (with video art and ad displays), plus the Legazpi Parkade which promises a more “park and walk” solution to Makati’s traffic situation.

Covered walkways work well in places like Singapore’s Orchard Lane. Imagine if you could walk from Ayala Center to Poblacion — without getting wet in the rain. Public walkways may be key to connecting most of the nodes of Makati — and cut down on future vehicular traffic. “People wouldn’t take their cars anymore; they’d just walk the public walkways or take the bike paths.”

“Makati has evolved to all these distinct areas and neighborhoods now,” adds Blas. “We hope to connect the Makati CBD with all the neighboring areas, so that it becomes more interesting, more reachable. So that life in Makati is not just about skyscrapers, but also about vibrant streets and lively communities.”

 

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