June 25, 2017, 1:30 pm
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Innovator in real estate thinks big

Torre Lorenzo Development Corp. (TLDC) quietly tested the waters in the property business in 2000 with a simple but sensible idea of providing decent housing to affluent students.

Torre Lorenzo pioneered the university series with its Torre Lorenzo 1 on Taft avenue on a property owned by the family which is behind Lapanday Holdings.

As the family had no background in real estate, Lapanday being predominantly into manufacturing, it was Tomas Lorenzo who, after coming back from his studies in the United States, came up with the idea of building a high-rise development – at the time 23 floors was already considered high rise – to become the start of the family’s venture into real property.

Today, TLDC continues to pursue its university series and is improving on the concept further. It has also expanded its portfolio to include horizontal, hotel, resort, commercial and township developments.

All told, TLDC has 21 ongoing projects, quite a feat for a company which does not have as much land bank as the bigger developers in the country.

Tomas Lorenzo, president of TLDC, describes the company as not the typical real estate company. TLDC, he said, is an innovator of what is already out there in the market.

“We did not invent (the university series). We just repurposed it. We wanted to offer the market – college students and their parents –a `proper condo’ with the same amenities as upscale condos. The concept (of condo for students) has been there, we just tweaked it a bit,” Lorenzo said, who admitted the development was patterned after living arrangements of students in big universities in the US.

Soon after 1 Torre, TLDC ventured into 2 Torre also on Taft avenue and made both properties the most desirable places for students. The development was then followed by Torre Central on España, Manila.

The fourth of the university series called 3 Torre Lorenzo near La Salle Benilde on Arellano street recently broke ground.

This development, however, serves a dual purpose as it would not only cater to students but to workers. The project is three kilometers away from Makati.

“We are a product of our own success. Our (condo) products have evolved so much that they are full all the time,” said Lorenzo, attributing this to the service-oriented, hotel-like amenities of its developments.

Lorenzo said in each of these developments, TLDC keeps a number of units to itself to allow it to incur recurring income and enable it to properly manage and maintain it. In a way, owning some units in a condo development would allow TLDC a certain control or a say.

TLDC can then take in homeowners as members of its rental association management program.

“Standardization of the units and (proper) management are two of the key features of the university series. Our number one buyers arerepeat buyers. When we choose partners, (we make sure) they (are) insync with us. Buyers have to think long term,” Lorenzo said.

Such is the success of TLDC that in two years, average prices of the Torres have gone up from P80,000 per square meter (sq.m.) to P110,000 per sq.m. – nowhere near the P200,000 per sq.m. prices of condos in Bonifacio Global City.

“We are bankable,” Lorenzo said.

As part of the expansion of the university series, TLDC is building atwo-tower condo in Cavite near La Salle as well as TorreSur in Las Piñas that would cater to both students and young professionals.

TLDC has grown from 20 to 150 workers and even with this massive size, Lorenzo said the company maintains a flat organization, with no bureaucracy.

Leading by example, Lorenzo still joins roadshows abroad to personally hear from prospective buyers what they need, what they want and what they look for, which become pegs for future projects.

Thus, products like Tierra Lorenzo, a mixed-use development in key provincial centers, were born. This concept targets returning overseas Filipinos who want to own a condo in a big city or a town where they grew up in but close enough to the barrio where they were raised.

According to Lorenzo, Tierra Lorenzo is ideal for balikbayans who are home for extended stays almost yearly. The development is also ideal for retirees.

First of this series is Tierra Lorenzo Lipa, a two-tower condominium development with a hotel called T-Hotel.

According to Lorenzo, this development would adopt the rental program of the university series, allowing unit owners to earn rental incomes.

The hotel would provide condo owners venues for gatherings.

Tierra Lorenzo Lipa broke ground recently and so far units are selling well.

TLDC is also set to build a Tierra Lorenzo in San Fernando, Pampanga.The four-hectare development on the Olongapo-Gapan road would include condo buildings, a hotel and a sports center.

“San Fernando is the ground zero of remittances of overseas Filipinos. It is attracting business from different areas,” Lorenzo said in explaining the selection of the site.

TLDC is also planning to build a T-Hotel in Baguio City.

Torre Lorenzo is taking its tourism development to a whole new level with its Davao property.

The company has partnered with hotel operator DusitThani for the first Dusit Thani Residences in Asia.

The project has two parts: the Dusit Thani Residences, a 175-unit residential development, and the D2, a 120-room four-star hotel.

The three-bedroom units in the Residences were the first to sell out since the project was started in 2012.

TLDC, anticipating still the needs of business and tourists, raises the stake in the Davao property with a 200-room DusitThani Hotel and Resort designed as a colonial 1920s South Pacific coconut plantation. The resort would evoke a classic and colonial look. 

The development is inspired byDusit Maldives and would have upscale villas, a beach club, a marine sanctuary, among others.

Currently, the resort’s beach club entertains day tours. The cottages would be ready by 2019 which would then be managed by Dusit.

One may think TLDC has a lot on its plate but Lorenzo believes it is not overstretching itself.

“This makes sense to our shareholders and to the market,” said Lorenzo, who to this day manages each property hands on.

“We think big without losing sight of the details,” he added.

Lorenzo is spearheading the development of a legacy property of the family, a 200-hectare former banana plantation in Davao from where a township will rise.

Located 15 minutes from the airport, the property called Ciudades will have five subdivisions which TLDC would develop in joint venture with other developers.

Ciudades will also have a business park, a town center, school and hospital. Two subdivisions are so far done.

“We have been developing this (property) little by little since we took it out in 2000 because we had to add access roads,” said Lorenzo.

He said for the infrastructure alone, TLDC invested about a billion pesos.

Lapanday has since moved the banana plantation to Cotabato.

Lorenzo said TLDC is not even halfway done as it is also planning condo projects that would cater to families. TLDC is also looking at other projects for the Dusit brand. Irma Isip
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