The Net Group carves niche in office space dev’t


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FOR office-space developer The Net Group, producing office space will always be its niche.

With one of its projects in Fort Bonifacio is set to come online this quarter and another one is in the drawing board, the company is set to fully use its landbank in the area.

The Net Group remains focused on developing just office spaces and provide the market’s need in the Philippines, according to Ramon Fernando Rufino, executive vice president.

With nearly 10 years of experience and five completed projects, the company is now the biggest provider of office space in the fast-growing Bonifacio Global City central business district. It is now constructing the 28-floor Net Lima building, its 6th project, and the first green building in its portfolio.

Since the development of its first project, Net One in 2002, The Net Group has accumulated a total of 150,000 sq.m gross leaseable area (GLA) of office spaces, catering mainly to offshore and outsourcing firms.

With this specialization, The Net Group has earned the name “boutique IT office developer.”

The growing offshoring and outsourcing (OO) industry is boosting the demand for office space in the Philippines.

Driven by limited supply but increasing demand, lease rates for office spaces had been increasing since the 2008 global financial crisis.

A study by property consulting firm Jones Lang LaSalle Leechiu indicated that office rental rates have recovered 42 percent since 2008 with rents bottoming out in the fourth quarter of 2009.

David Leechiu, Jones Lang LaSalle country manager, noted that Makati and Bonifacio Global City will experience further growth in rental rates early this year.

Property consultancy CB Richard Ellis, meanwhile noted that in the first nine months of 2011, lease rates in Fort Bonifacio where Bonifacio Global City is located had been “on the upward trend” particularly in the first half of the year though growth has been affected by the turnover in the third quarter of Sunlife Centre and Trade Financial Tower office spaces.

“Though posting a 9 percent year-on-year growth, average asking lease rate slightly declined quarter-on-quarter from P697 per square meter per month to P695. Occupied space rose by 21 percent but vacancy rate went up to 6.28 percent owing to the additional supply of 48,300 sq.m. meters of leasable area,” CB Richard Ellis said.

“Further supply of BPO buildings is on the pipeline for completion in 2012 but vacancy rate is not expected to be adversely affected because of strong pre-commitments,” it added.

Jones Lang LaSalle in its study pegged the average office space demand for the year at “at least 300,000 sq.m.” that will run up to 2015.

Going by the number of buildings set to be completed by 2015, Leechiu said that there would be a 200,000-sq.m. supply deficit of office space by 2015 should average demand go up to 360,000 sq.m. annually

Colliers International, another property consultancy firm, meanwhile noted that the interest for Fort Bonifacio has caused its land value to appreciate to an average of P177,500 per sq.m. given the “consistently high interest” in the location and “lack of available principal lots.”

Rufino said that in the 50,000-aq.m. GLA Net Lima, the company again caters to the OO industry though this time the space offers the value-added feature of an environmentally-friendly built building.

Serving as a pilot project for the locally-developed green building standard Building for Ecologically Responsive Design Excellence (BERDE) of local green building council — Philippine Green Building Council (PhilGBC), Net Lima incorporates designs like sun shading and a full-glass curtain wall, which reduces energy use particularly on air-conditioning; fiberglass fuel storage tanks with built-in leak detection for generators used during power outages, which compared to industry standard steel tanks, reduce the risk of leaks and contamination and also have a life span twice as long as its steel counterpart and can easily be repaired and serviced, in order to highlight the benefits of the local green-building standard to potential adapters.

Condensate water from air conditioning is also collected for use in landscaping, cleaning, and other needs for the building.

As part of the BERDE standard, all members of the project team are required to be a member of PhilGBC.

Lessons in Net Lima will be incorporated in the BERDE standard.

Rufino expressed confidence that the unveiling of Net Lima would contribute to the adoption of green building development in the Philippines. Net Lima is set for turn over to tenants in the first three months of the year.

Rufino said that with the expected coming online of Net Lima this first quarter, turnover can start this January. Complete turnover and move-in is is expected to be completed by March.

With thisThe Net Group’s total office space is expected to hit about 200,000 sq.m.

Complimenting Net Lima is another green building that is currently on the drawing board — Net Park.

At 48 storeys high, the initial detail for the plan, Net Park will compliment the BERDE credentials of Net Lima as they sit in the combined 1.2-hectare property that is owned by the company.

Both projects are to be designed by Miami-based green architect Chad Oppenheim.

With the eventual completion of Net Park, The Net Group would have completely used its landbank in Fort Bonifacio.

“Our focus is on completing Net Park, and after that we will see what happens next,” said Rufino.

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