23 October 2016
Old, lush trees line a street in Forbes Park, home to the Philippine elite. Photo: Internet
Old, lush trees line a street in Forbes Park, home to the Philippine elite. Photo: Internet

This is your Manila neighborhood once you’ve made it

Manny Pacquiao, the Filipino boxing superstar and politician, has a house there, so do hundreds of celebrities, diplomats and members of the Philippines business elite.

That makes Forbes Park, an exclusive residential enclave in the heart of Manila, the country’s most prestigious — and priciest — address.

The neighborhood spans about one square mile with more than 2,500 residents.

It is popular among expat executives who pay about US$9,000 a month on average to lease a home there.

“It’s the Boardwalk or Park Place of Manila,” says Raphael Arcenas, a real estate broker who rents and renovates homes in the neighborhood, tells the Wall Street Journal.

“Once you’ve made it here, this is your address.”

Pacquiao owns a home in North Forbes that he bought in 2011 for about US$8 million. He is selling it for nearly US$16 million.

The Zobel de Ayala family, which developed Forbes Park as well as Manila’s central business district, also lives there.

In recent years, prices in North and South Forbes have climbed, as the new business district of Bonifacio Global City, or BGC, pulls in tenants such as tech giant Oracle and the forthcoming Philippine Stock Exchange headquarters.

“Nowhere in Manila can you find that kind of development with access to amenities without a lot of traffic,” says Claro Cordero, head of research, consulting and valuation at property consultancy JLL Philippines.

Today, the median house price in Forbes Park is US$8.4 million, according to a report from Lamudi, a global property website that focuses on emerging markets.

Most lots measure half an acre to an acre, and Forbes Park Village Association rules limit the footprint of the home to about one-third of the land, leaving room for lush landscaping.

Homes average 6,000 to more than 15,000 square feet.

While the Forbes Park barangay, or administrative village, must approve building plans, there is no uniform style. Houses built in the 1960s and 1970s are scattered among contemporary designs.

Many house hunters are willing to tear down an old property and rebuild just to get into the area, says Dominic Lorico, a local real estate broker.

Bo Garcia, who owns a BMW dealership in Manila, bought a 1970s Forbes Park home a year and a half ago for about $8 million. He and his wife are living in the home while they await approval on their plans to build a six-bedroom house with a 12-car garage, home theater, massage room, elevator, gym and hair salon.

“It’s a really good investment and one I can grow old in,” Garcia says.

Other Forbes Park homeowners update properties, then lease them for US$5,000 to US$12,000 a month. About 35 percent of Forbes Park homes are rentals.

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