By Santiago J. Arnaiz
Last month, property giant Megaworld announced its latest township project, Northwin Global City, a P98-billion, 85-hectare development that aims to transform areas across Marilao and Bocaue, Bulacan into a thriving new global business district. As the company’s 28th township project to date, Northwin Global City promises to set a new golden standard for liveable, sustainable, and green global cities.
Strategically located along the North Luzon Expressway, less than an hour’s travel from many of Metro Manila’s primary business and transportation hubs, Northwin Global City caters first and foremost to the rising demand for commercial real estate in the country. Even as the nation continues on its slow recovery from the ongoing pandemic, businesses seeking to rebound following the rolling lockdowns and community quarantines have driven demand for office space in the Philippines to unexpected heights. According to data from Statista, the second quarter of 2021 saw office space demand in the country rise to 169,000 square meters, presenting a 39% increase in demand year on year.
Much of this demand, driven primarily by the information technology and business process management sector, is clustered around the city of Taguig, which accounts for the highest share of the country’s supply of office space. But while data shows businesses returning to workplaces in earnest as early as 2024, Kevin L. Tan, Megaworld’s chief strategy officer, expects that at least some of them won’t be flocking back to Metro Manila’s congested streets any time soon.
“We envision huge multinational companies to be operating [in Bulacan] once our commercial district and our office towers are completed,” he said. “Northwin Global City’s close proximity to Metro Manila, its ideal location just along the North Luzon Expressway, and the major transport infrastructure will be very favorable for the future locators and residents of this township.”
Catering to the holistic needs of a bustling community of professionals, Northwin Global City will also host residential condominiums, hotels, malls, mixed-use commercial buildings, educational institutions, and state-of-the-art office towers for BPOs and corporate headquarters. Beyond amenities, however, Megaworld’s vision for their latest township is a fully-realized, metropolitan hub for the world’s most innovative businesses. Equipped with the latest smart city technologies and designed to cater to the holistic wellbeing of its professional population, Northwin Global City aims to be a truly liveable city, presenting businesses with fertile grounds to build their futures.
“[We are] building a new city that will put the province of Bulacan on the global business map,” Mr. Tan said. “Finally, our vision of having a truly modern and global business district for Bulacan is coming to a reality.”
A new business hub on the rise
While Mr. Tan expects their new integrated urban township to be completed in the next 15 to 20 years, work is already under way on the development’s central business district, Northwin Main Street.
Patterned after New York City’s Fifth Avenue, the future beating heart of Bulacan’s new global city will see corporate buildings, shophouses, hotels, and commercial towers lining pedestrian-friendly streets and well-curated gardens and parks.
But unlike Manhattan’s sky-blotting skyline, Northwin Main Street will offer a more classical, breathable business district. Inspired by French architecture, the district’s shophouses will be built up to three-storey high, with lot sizes ranging from 250 square meters to 550 square meters. These would house retail, food and beverage outlets such as cafes, restaurants and bars, boutique hotels, and even outpatient clinics. Each shophouse may also offer residential or office space on its top floors.
Meanwhile, commercial buildings, with lot sizes ranging from 450 square meters to 750 square meters, may be built up to five-storey high. These would be exclusively for commercial establishments such as offices or boutique hotels.
Altogether, Megaworld plans to develop 145 prime shophouse and commercial lots across the 16 hectares of green spaces allocated for Northwin Main Street. The company projects sales from this project to reach around P6 billion.
According to Mr. Tan, Northwin Global City’s greenscapes play a pivotal role in their strategy for this latest township. More than pleasant scenery, the gardens and parks of the new global business district speak to a deeper strategy Megaworld has drafted for its vision of the future of business and lifestyle.
A breath of fresh air
As the nation gears up for a post-pandemic economic rebound, Megaworld believes that in order for workforces to deliver their best possible work, they need the best possible workplaces — spaces that provide not only comfort, but cater to the holistic wellness of its professional population. With its abundance of green spaces, Northwin Global City offers precisely that.
Amidst the New York-inspired thoroughfares and European architecture, nearly half of the city’s central business district will be allocated for green and open spaces. Wide, eight-lane main roads and avenues will be flanked by beautiful greenery. City blocks will be connected by promenades and walking parks designed for pedestrians on a stroll or on-the-go. All-in-all, forty percent of the entire township development will be dedicated to these green and open spaces — a massive boost to the Greater Metropolitan Manila’s glaring lack of natural spaces.
In 2019, data from the Department of Environment and Natural Resources showed that out of Metro Manila’s roughly 56,000 hectares, only 12,152 hectares of green space remained in the national capital region, representing 21.7%. In the capital city of Manila, that number was significantly lower, measuring only 3.7%. Studies show that a lack of green and open spaces pose a number of risks to a population’s holistic health, ranging from dangerous heat levels to mental health aggravators.
According to a 2019 report from the World Health Organization, Filipinos businesses lose over P100 billion in absenteeism and presenteeism costs associated with poor employee health. It’s a staggering figure largely shaped by the working environments most companies have little control over.
The scenic vistas along the North Luzon Expressway will transform as Northwin Global City rises.
Megaworld’s plans for a greener city promise a healthier future for its eventual tenants. The World Health Organization found that urban green spaces not only cool down notoriously hot metropolitan areas, called Urban Heat Islands, but also provide safe means of transportation for pedestrians, while promoting healthy physical and social activities among people. At 40 percent, Northwin Global City boasts green spaces even higher than that of world-renowned garden city Singapore. The island state currently has 30% of their land mass covered in greenery.
Amidst a growing mental health epidemic sweeping workplaces, green spaces “can reduce health inequalities, improve wellbeing, and aid in the treatment of mental illness,” the organization said. “Some analysis suggests that physical activity in a natural environment can help remedy mild depression and reduce physiological stress indicators.”
Megaworld’s commitment to building the metropolitan business hub of the future goes beyond green spaces as well. As part of its “iTownship” suite of innovations for sustainable modern living, Northwin Global City will also be fitted out with fiber optic and underground cabling systems for utilities, solar-powered LED street lamps for power efficient lighting, a modern sewage treatment plant, a central material recovery facility for waste recycling, an Intermodal Transport Terminal, and biking network facilities to integrate with its city-wide bike lanes.
Similarly, a state-of-the-art stormwater detention facility will be integrated into Northwin Global City’s infrastructure, to ensure the city’s year-round protection from annual floods. Earlier in July, continued rains saw work suspended and families displaced across Bulacan due to flood waters rising up to three meters. The floods affected 79 villages in the province, including 13 in Bocaue. With this latest township, Megaworld sees Northwin Global City as an opportunity to present the region’s most ambitious companies with a truly modern, resilient global city they can thrive in for decades to come.
Centrally located, infinitely accessible
Megaworld’s new township imagines a future they believe businesses will embrace wholeheartedly, both due to the promise it holds as a holistically designed global city and the convenience it offers with its central location, accessible to many of the infrastructural projects cropping up over the next few years.
“Since the township is just conveniently located along the North Luzon Expressway, and just 20 kilometers away from Metro Manila, this will be the nearest business district outside of the capital where companies and businesses can build their shops and offices,” said Noli D. Hernandez, Megaworld’s executive vice-president for sales and marketing. “We also encourage entrepreneurs to become part of this global business district, which will soon be just 20 minutes away from the much-anticipated New Manila International Airport in Bulacan.”
The new global business district will also host the Marilao-Bagong Ilog station of the Manila-Clark Railway project, the multibillion peso railway project expected to be fully operational by 2024. Future residents, locators, and visitors will be able to easily travel to Northwin Global City from not only Metro Manila but also areas as previously difficult to reach as Clark International Airport.
In fact, by the time it’s completed, Northwin Global City’s strategic location places it within easy travel distance from three international airports — in Bulacan, Clark, and Metro Manila — making it the perfect hub for multinational companies operating across regions.
Commuters will be able to travel to Northwin Global City by taking the Marilao Exit along the North Luzon Expressway, just five minutes away from the Philippine Arena. From the Ninoy Aquino International Airport, Makati Central Business District, and Bonifacio Global City, Northwin Global City can also be easily accessed via the Skyway 3. Under normal traffic conditions, commuters can expect travel times of less than an hour.
With this latest development, Megaworld is making a big bet on Bulacan, and for good reason. With its suite of “iTownship” innovations, abundance of green space, and central location, Northwin Global City promises to be both a shining addition to its impressive portfolio of township projects, as well as an exciting new setting for innovators and incumbents to build the future of business in the Philippines and beyond.