By: Vaughn Alviar @INQ_Property
Publication: Philippine Daily Inquirer
March 26, 2022
Recovery is nigh, finally. At least this is what an optimistic Cary Lagdameo, president of Damosa Land Inc. (DLI), told Inquirer Property in an exclusive interview Thursday. “The Year 2020 was like a year of discovery. In the year 2021, we were trying to understand how to work moving forward,” Lagdameo noted. “We are looking at 2022 as the true recovery year.”
Bigger milestones ahead
For DLI, a leading developer in Davao Region, 2021 was already a “decent year.” Its residential sales grew 10 percent, while occupancy in commercial spaces stood at 94.3 percent compared to the 87.6 percent recorded the previous year. Industrial lot sales meanwhile grew by a whopping 221.05 percent.
Even bigger milestones could be up ahead if DLI sustains its first-quarter performance, noted Lagdameo.
“Even though the quarter is not yet over, we have one more week to go, our targets have already surpassed our budget for the year and they’ve even surpassed 2019 Q1 figures,” he disclosed. “If it’s any indication for the rest of the year, I believe we will surpass our 2019 numbers this year.”
Lagdameo noted an uptick in DLI’s residential sales for the first quarter, plus a comeback for commercial leasing and industrial inquiries. Hotel occupancy, while slow, is starting to improve as well. It may be a long road ahead but “Piso fares” and business travels are returning, he added.
One thing that’s going to facilitate a rebound for Davao is the fact that it sells itself, said Lagdameo.
“For a very long time, that was our biggest challenge: ‘How do you sell Davao? How do you get people to even come here?’ Now, people know it. You can see what makes Davao positive as an investment destination,” he said.
He cited the exponential increase in industrial sales as a definitive sign of growing interest in the region. The clientele for industrial and commercial spaces is also getting diverse, with US, Japanese, European, and Chinese investors entering Davao.
In terms of commercial leasing, Lagdameo said DLI was happy to end 2021 at 94.3 percent because it was already inching closer to pre-pandemic levels. For him, this signaled optimism among businesses, even small and medium-sized enterprises, to restart. As offices encourage workers to return to the office or work hybrid, he said DLI’s office and coworking options will pick up.
Focus on residential
Last month, Lagdameo announced that in 2022, DLI would focus largely on its residential and township projects—-products whose demand “never left” even in the roughest times of the pandemic. DLI, which offers units from the affordable to the high-end range, hopes to corner the pent-up demand.
Determined to attract discerning homebuyers in Davao Region, it launched last month its Bridgeport project, a 13-ha mixed-use development on Samal Island with residential, commercial, and event spaces, plus a marina. It’s initial offering—now with a 60-percent take-up—is the first of four towers at Bridgeport Park, which provides a majestic view of Davao Gulf. The project plays into DLI’s specialization in boutique and sustainable developments but also presents a property attainable even for middle-income investors.
“The market is ripe for projects like this,” he said. In 2020, DLI launched Agriya, an expansive “agropolis” in Panabo City. Take-up is now at 75 percent. This year, homes are scheduled for turnover and construction will begin for the University of the Philippines Professional School for Agriculture and the Environment campus.
Whatever happens as 2022 unfolds, Lagdameo said, the company has emerged stronger from the lowest of lows. With thicker skin, better foresight and cautious optimism, DLI will continue delivering meaningful offers and pioneering many firsts for Mindanao, like its first EDGE-certified office building through Damosa Diamond Tower, or the first drive-thru Starbucks branch set to open soon.
The first that matters most to DLI, however, was “being the first to use green or sustainable ideas for development,” Lagdameo said. The company has since been championing renewable energy and environment-friendly practices.
“We continue to believe in the Davao Region. The hard numbers will show the possibilities,” Lagdameo noted. “All things considered, who wouldn’t be positive?”