By Cathy Rose A. Garcia
THE ICCP Group is seeing continued growth in its property development business, particularly in townships and industrial estates.
ICCP Group Chairman and Chief Executive Officer Guillermo D. Luchangco said Pueblo de Oro Development Corp. (PDO) and industrial park developer Science Park of the Philippines, Inc. (SPPI) have been recording steady sales.
“We don’t have as many projects as Filinvest or Ayala but our sales growth is good and our profit margins are healthy,” Mr. Luchangco told BusinessWorld in an interview at the company’s office in Makati City on Sept. 4.
PDO, which develops residential communities and township projects, is best known for its flagship project Pueblo de Oro in Cagayan de Oro. The company acquired the 360-hectare property in the early 1990s, back when such huge township projects were practically unheard of, especially in the provinces.
“In the case of Pueblo de Oro, we had 360 hectares in Cagayan de Oro which we developed into a township. We were able to attract SM to put up its first mall there. We also put up a Robert Trent Jones Jr. golf course, which is ranked as one of the top five golf courses in the Philippines by Golfing Philippines (magazine),” Mr. Luchangco said.
The township also hosts a business park with a PEZA-accredited IT economic zone; and educational institutions Xavier University and Corpus Christi School.
The business activity in the area spurred demand for residential projects that cater to different market segments. And demand shows no signs of slowing down, prompting PDO to acquire additional property — bringing Pueblo de Oro’s total project area to 400 hectares. To date, the township is now home to 9,840 residential units.
Mr. Luchangco said the success of Pueblo de Oro Cagayan de Oro pushed the company to develop similar townships in Cebu, Batangas and Pampanga, albeit at a smaller scale.
“In those areas, we are in the regional centers of the Philippines like Cebu, Sto. Tomas and San Fernando… We intend to expand into other regional centers,” he said.
Even before “green” projects were a trend, PDO was already implementing eco-friendly initiatives in its projects.
“We’re a mid-sized developer but because of that we are able to pay more attention to our projects, environmental management, give that development more features, to give it some distinction,” Mr. Luchangco said.
The company maintained a 40-hectare urban rainforest in Cagayan de Oro, helped plant 65,000 mangrove seedlings in Mactan, and has regular tree-planting activities as part of its corporate social responsibility (CSR) program.
In the Cagayan de Oro township, Mr. Luchangco said they built a 6,600-cubic meter detention pond “so we would not flood the people living below in case of heavy rains.”
“As responsible citizens, we spent the money to build the waterway and the detention pond. During Sendong (in 2011), it held and we ended up helping the city by supplying water to some areas because the water supply got cut off and we still had water. After Sendong, there was a big rush of people buying property because they saw our properties did not see flooding,” he said.
Mr. Luchangco noted that Pueblo de Oro Pampanga has not experienced flooding even during typhoons, as they raised the elevation of the land when they were developing the project.
“We built the area two to three meters higher (than surrounding areas), because our studies showed it is prone to flooding… It vindicates our projects that they don’t flood,” he said.
Even for the golf course in Cagayan de Oro, PDO has made sure its environmental impact was minimized. Mr. Luchangco said the company built five ponds not just as golf course hazards but to serve as interconnected reservoirs to retain water.
“We have a layer of about eight inches of sand below the surface to drain the water out. The sand acts like a filter, the water is used for the golf course, so we don’t use as much water as you would expect. We also put in an electronic control system for the sprinkling of water. It basically calculates how much water the course really needs and only that area gets sprinkled,” he said.
The ICCP Group’s property business also includes the development and management of industrial estates through SPPI.
“Industrial estates was the first thing we did in property. We started in 1989 after we saw a number of foreign companies who wanted to come in but the scene was chaotic for them,” Mr. Luchangco said.
“I decided to start the business of industrial estates. We made sure there’s power, water… We also managed the estate.”
The company has developed six industrial parks, starting with the 178-hectare Light Industry & Science Park I (LISP-I) in Cabuyao, Laguna. LISP I was said to be the first privately-owned industrial estate to operate as a Special Export Processing Zone under the Philippine Economic Zone Authority (PEZA).
SPPI’s other industrial estates include LISP II in Calamba, Laguna; LISP III in Sto. Tomas, Batangas; Hermosa Ecozone Industrial Park in Hermosa, Bataan; and Cebu Light Industrial Park in Mactan, Cebu.
“After we sell our industrial estate, we offer to continue managing it for a fee. But profitability is not the main objective, we make a lot more in building and selling estates than by running them. The reason for that is we want to make sure the quality of the estate does not deteriorate… In all our estates that we have turned over, they have chosen us to manage it,” Mr. Luchangco said.
The latest project is LISP IV in Malvar, Batangas.
“The newest is LISP IV in Malvar. That’s being developed now. We have sold some areas and developing other areas,” Mr. Luchangco said, adding that PDO is developing a residential community next to the industrial estate as part of a “live-work” community concept.
Mr. Luchangco said he wants PDO and SPPI to be known not just for high-quality projects, but also as environmentally conscious companies.
“What we want… is to be the gold standard in residential communities, because we want to do good products,” he said. “We want to be known for our quality and environmental concern.”