Ortigas & Company's Road To Jipa Award For Excellence

Once dismissed as a shell of its old self, Ortigas & Company's revival as a strong real estate player has gained recognition in the Japan International Property Awards.

The current Ortigas & Company centers around the Spanish-era Hacienda de Mandaluyong, which used to be owned by the Franciscan order and later acquired to form part of the Ortigas Estate. Despite the name, the estate covers areas not just in Mandaluyong, but also Pasig, San Juan, and present-day Quezon City. 

A partnership was made
In 1931, the company was established as a partnership between the Spanish-Filipino businessmen Don Francisco “Paco” Ortigas and Vicente Madrigal, Fulgencio Borromeo, then Senate President Manuel L. Quezon, and American partners B.C.M. Johnston and Clyde A. Dewitt. Thus it became the country’s pioneer in formal real estate development.

While the best known development under this partnership is Ortigas Center, the Greenhills villages spanning Mandaluyong and San Juan, and the Valle Verde villages spanning Pasig and Quezon City were originally developed by the company. Also, the vast estate once include Camp Aguinaldo and Camp Crame, which Ortigas & Company donated to the Commonwealth government of their co-founder Manuel Quezon.

A finance district born
Until the early 70’s, most of what we know as Ortigas Center was grassland. Most of the initial development was centered around Greenhills Shopping Center with its iconic Virra Mall, Unimart, and Music Museum, catering to the residents of the Greenhills villages immediately surrounding the area. 

Under the leadership of Francisco Ortigas, Jr., the area that became Ortigas Center was developed to attract conglomerates and finance companies to locate there. Early occupants include Meralco, San Miguel Corporation, the Center for Research and Communication (now University of Asia and the Pacific), and the multinational Protestant congregation Greenhills Christian Fellowship.

In the late 80s and early 90s saw the entry of then nascent Robinsons Galleria, SM Megamall, and Shangri-La Plaza, adjacent EDSA Shangri-La Hotel. Ortigas Center also saw the growth and construction of office spaces in the now iconic Emerald Avenue (renamed F. Ortigas, Jr.) and the opening of the Manila Stock Exchange, since merged with the Philippine Stock Exchange. 

Rebirth and renewal
Construction boomed once again by the late 90s towards the early years of the millenium, with St. Francis Square in 1998 and The Podium Mall in 2002 opened its doors, as well as hotels Crown Plaza, Holiday Inn, Malayan Plaza, Linden Suites, and Richmonde Hotel. However, the effects of the 1998 Financial Crisis and turbulent politics from the ouster of President Joseph Estrada halted further developments.

Ortigas & Company shifted into smaller-scale developments like Fronterra Verde (now Ortigas East), with its Tiendesitas Mall as the commercial anchor, to cater to the residents of the Valle Verde villages, a similar role played by Greenhills Shopping Center. The company also invested in the steady redevelopment of Greenhills Shopping Center.

With some delays, Ortigas once again saw rapid developments and redevelopments in the area with the SM Group revamping both SM Megamall and The Podium properties, and Robinsons Land developing their landbanked properties near the Shaw Boulevard side of the business district and those near their Robinsons Galleria property. 

But, Ortigas & Company itself reentered property development and opened up a new area near Libis, Quezon City called Circulo Verde. With the Rizal Provincial Capitol finally moved from its Pasig location to Antipolo, the company developed the vacated property into Capitol Commons, an allusion to its former use as a provincial capitol compound. Estancia Mall was built to cater to both residents of condominiums and nearby communities. 

This year, Fronterra Verde was relaunched as Ortigas East to connect the development directly to Ortigas Center, with some segments like commercial and retail to be launched in partnership with Ayala Land and SMDC. Glaston Towers garnered a spectacular sales performance with 81% immediate uptake, with other developments like Maple and Verdant expected to exceed that due to the area’s strategic location.

Ortigas & Company’s two projects, The Imperium at the Capitol Commons and Capitol Commons itself were finalists for the Best High-Rise Residential Development and Best Mix-Integrated Development in the Japan International Property Awards (JIPA) 2018. While both failed to win the awards, the JIPA awards body recognized Ortigas & Company with an Award of Excellence as the fastest-growing real estate company in Southeast Asia.*