Making open spaces work
Oakridge developer to build on 40% of 4-hectare property to ensure feeling of openness
As real estate prices in Metropolitan Cebu continue to shoot up, most developers would choose to make the most out of their land bank and build, build, build.
Maximizing one’s property is essential for maximum profit after all, but one homegrown developer chooses to shun this mindset, something which its company executive said sets them apart from most of the others.
“One of our plans is to ensure that feeling of openness. The ambience is very important to us,” said Edmun Liu, chief executive officer of Oakridge Realty Development Corp., the developer of Oakridge Business Park along A.S. Fortuna Street in Mandaue City.
Liu recalled that when they started development of the project more than 10 years ago, they made sure not to go beyond 50 percent of the four-hectare property, leaving that area as open space.
Oakridge’s first tenant was outsourcing firm Teletech, but the company gradually accepted more lessees over the years.
In the past decade, however, the developer has only utilized 15,000 square meters in leasable space even with more than 50 tenants already.
Last week, the company topped off its 12-storey Oakridge IT Center 2 (OITC 2), which is part of a P2-billion project involving the construction of two IT buildings and an atrium inside the business park in the next three years.
This development comes as the company is poised to create a more balanced environment for its BPO and office clients as well as prepare to welcome additional shopping establishments, dining choices, recreation, and wellness facilities.
OITC 2, which is registered with Peza, will have over 14,000 sq. m. of leasable space from the fifth to the 12th floors, and is expected to be completed by November 2017.
Upon completion, the building will increase the business park’s total leasable office space to 30,000 sq. m., said Liu.
The second phase of the expansion, which includes the OITC 3 and the atrium, was seen to bring Oakridge’s leasing inventory to 50,000 sq. m., yet Liu said they will still be at 60 percent open space by then.
This was evident of the company’s bias toward a more “cozy” ambiance, he said.
“A typical developer would try to maximize every square meter, but I guess this was also one of the legacies of our founders. We try to ensure the experience rather than maximizing profit,” he said.
Liu cited the Oakridge Pavillion, a single-storey, 1,200-sq. m. permanent tent event venue with a capacity of 1,000 guests, as an example of what any developer would say is “really poor maximization of the land.”
The executive said Oakridge could be called out for building only a one-storey event venue when there is still a lot of space around it.
“I think most people would say, build it, go higher. Well, I guess we are different in that way. It has always been about the customer experience and that’s what differentiates Oakridge,” said Liu.
He added that it is all about customers and long-term thinking, pointing out that they can probably sign up more tenants by maximizing the space, thereby reducing the open area, but this set-up is more sustainable.
In the end, Liu said people will feel like they are not in an urban jungle.
Oakridge Business Park is situated along A.S. Fortuna Street, a 3-kilometer road which connects Mandaue City to Banilad in Cebu City, and is considered as one of the busiest thoroughfares in the metropolitan area with many restaurants, several hotels, and a mall located along the route.
Renowned architect and urban planner Felino “Jun” Palafox Jr., in a report titled “Architecture and Urban Planning Toward Healthy Communities,” emphasized the importance of open and green spaces.
Palafox pointed out that the building-to-open space ratio should be 60:40, with the remaining 40 percent of the site to be used for pedestrian
walkways, utilities, and infrastructure, as well as green open spaces.
Palafox cited mostly health benefits of open and green spaces, including positive impact on exercising.
“You exercise longer if you like the view. Even if you don’t exercise, an open, green space still makes you healthier. Exercising in green, open spaces fends off depression,” he said.
He pointed out that adequate space also leads to greater productivity.
He also said that crowding also deprives one of shut-eye.
Lastly, he said that because of increased productivity in a spacious workplace, one can earn more money.
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