General Santos—From afar, the once agricultural vista is now flattened out. Half a dozen tractors crisscross the wide dusty plain, marked along its edges by billowing blue flags—the color of nearby Sarangani Bay—emblazoned with the word “Avia.”
Alsons Development and Investment Corp. (Alsons Dev) is carving out a 121-hectare mixed-use township on this windswept land located in Alabel, Sarangani, province in southern Philippines, where towering mountain ranges from a distance provide a picturesque backdrop for future homeowners and commercial locators.
A subsidiary of the Alcantara Group, one of the largest Filipino-owned conglomerates based in Southern Mindanao, Alsons Dev is plunking a cool P1 billion, just for starters, to develop this township, about 15 kilometers from General Santos. It is the company’s first real estate venture out of Davao City where it has built high- and upper mid-range residential and commercial projects over the last 60 years.
Creating a new lifestyle destination
Dubbed Avia Estate, the planned community is currently being built for the first 32 hectares that will have single-detached homes in the Narra Park Residences, a commercial center, parks and open spaces, community amenities, a branch of the Abba Orchards School, and a public safety complex that will house police and fire stations. It will be along a wide highway that leads to beach destinations in Sarangani Bay. The 1.2-kilometer frontage of the complex is also planned to be a commercial strip.
“Sarangani has always been a valued region to the Alcantara family because we believe in its potential for growth and development,” said Alsons Dev Director Miguel A. Dominguez during the Avia Estate launch.
The diversified Alcantara Group’s aquaculture and agribusiness ventures are mainly located in Sarangani.
“We want to be part of that growth, and we are committed to helping lead Mindanao’s progress by creating a new lifestyle destination that will serve as a growth hub and create more opportunities for the people residing here,” said Dominguez, who served as governor of the province for three terms in 2004-2013.
Jolla A. Soriaga, assistant general manager for Alsons Dev’s Business Units Group, said during the launch that they target to start turning over residential units by late 2025.
For the commercial segments, Ms. Soriaga said negotiations are ongoing for locators and partners, and shops could open as early as end-2023.
Alsons Dev’s partners in its Davao City projects include CityMall Commercial Centers, Inc.
Starting with a blank slate
Architect and urban planner Paulo G. Alcazaren, who led in designing the estate, said the project is what planners consider a “tabula rasa.”
It’s a “blank slate,” Alcazaren explained. “Unencumbered by the usual developer problems of unsuitable and uncooperative neighbors, unsupportive local governments, contested boundaries.”
Alcazaren, a staunch advocate of quality-of-life features e.g. wide open spaces, sidewalks, parks, and urban greenery, also said that since Alabel — which is adjacent to the commercial center of Gensan—and Sarangani are not yet highly urbanized areas, they have the opportunity to learn and avoid the mistakes of the Philippines’ big cities.
“This is the opportunity for areas other than Manila to show how to do it (urbanization) correctly,” he said.
Good governance is key
Alabel Mayor Vic Paul M. Salarda said the local government has continuously been pursuing policies on ease of doing business, recognizing that good governance is key to attracting investors such as Alsons.
“I thank the Alcantara group for seeing the possibilities of our town,” he said.
“We are confident that this partnership will lead to many opportunities that will improve the lives of our residents and put Alabel on the map as a dynamic growth hub in Sarangani,” the mayor said.
Sarangani is part of the Soccsksargen Region composed of the provinces of South Cotabato, Cotabato, Sultan Kudarat, and Sarangani, and General Santos City.
For more information about Avia Estate, visit bit.ly/AviaEstate or its Facebook page.