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FR International Goes to MANILA: Nuvo City

Nuvo City

Going away for the holidays is truly a great tradition, and for this season my husband and I left the sun drenched shores of Flatbush for the balmy tropics of Manila. Once our jetlag became half-way manageable, we set doing what we love– looking at real estate.

First thing’s first, the Philippines is having a bit of a moment, symptoms include not only the shop-til-you-drop fever, but also the glassy-eyed stare of non-comprehension when we name-drop “recession”.  The Philippines is expected to have the second fastest growing economy in southeast Asia (after Thailand) in 2010, and as all Flatbush denizens know boom economies are exuberantly followed by condo building mania. Half way across the world– this logic stood its ground.

Our first stop — Nuvo City an ambitious mix-use 5 tower project  that has barely broken ground but promises to serve up the latest in Philippine condo offerings from a studio to 3BD penthouse. Amenities include: –gym, lounge / conference room / media room,  outdoor swimming pool (for each of the 5 towers), tennis court, basketball, badminton, volleyball, and playground(?).  Most compelling, they’ll have high-end retail businesses in the lower levels — making it into an upscale mall not unlike the Time Warner Center in NY — or other successful developments like Global City — Fort in Manila.

We were offered to view the showrooms – which are similar in purpose to model units, except the materials aren’t exactly the same as the units you’d be buying– more like just the “look and feel” of the place. And some things are just designed to show you what you could do with the place (i.e. wood paneling) which the unit would not be coming with. Still, they were quite impressive. Many of the units came with a balcony, high ceilings, and spacious layouts. They also had a distinct modern aesthetic, overhead showers, roca finishes in some of the bathrooms, homogenous tiling (yum), engineered wooden flooring and synthetic stone tops in the kitchen — which looks nice but I prefer au natural. Glass was also a big theme throughout, they opted for generously over-sized windows rather than the floor-to-cieling drama favored in the Flatbush Riviera, and used it liberally internally using frosted glass partitions for bathrooms (studio units) to master bedroom walls to overlook the living room (penthouse lofts).

Sadly, I couldn’t take a photo of any of the showroom units we saw — as they were  top trade sekrits– so the ones I have are scoured from the internet.

Finally, we got to the real juice, the prices. Generally ~ $65k for ~350 sqft studios, ~$90k -$120k for ~750 sqft 1 bedrooms, and ~ $150 – $280k for 2 bd / 2BA, I kid you not, those are ALL IN prices and not down payments. Even more mind blowing — those are just about the same prices whether or not you’re located on the 2nd floor or the 42nd floor. I discovered this during a conversation that went something like:

Agent: Which floor would you like the pricing structure on? We have units still on the 8th floor which is close to the 5th floor amenities.

FR: {seeing they also have units on the 42nd+ floor}  I’d like to see the 42nd – 44th.

Agent: {silence} .. even for the 2 bedrooms? For 2 bedrooms we have corner units available on the 13th floor, which isn’t too far from the 5th floor amenities.

FR: Are these amenities on the 5th floor the swimming pool, and tennis courts etc,..?

Agent: Yes

FR: {gestures to husband} — HE only goes to the gym 2x a month, me 3x week TOPS, and with the gentle tropical sun (sarcasm inserted) we may never go to those “amenities” during the day. But I’ll be seeing my view EVERY day.

Agent: {shrug and smile} — people here like the amenities.

True story.