FAQs about the Belle Arte Condominiums Project –
Notes from the Developer
Lilia V. Villanueva President/COO, Marosvill Development Corporation
October 2015 until January 2017
By popular request, I will begin to share my answers to most frequently asked questions (FAQ) regarding our development project and subjects related to Belle Arte. I will begin with the most FAQ I get as a real estate developer in Bacolod City.
FAQ #1: What made you decide to become a developer?
Ma. LVV: I didn't “decide.” I “became” one as a result of a series of events. The first happened in 2011 when my siblings and cousins from another branch of the clan decided to buy out the shares of other cousins for a plot of land on a very important site. I thank each one of them for their foresight in acquiring this valuable property, which sits right next to our grandfather's house built in 1936, the largest art deco residence left standing in the country today. It is known as “Daku Balay.” When I returned from the U.S. in 2012, I presented a careful plan to our shareholders that focused on the proximity of our new property to the ancestral house we all still share to this day. Thus, the vision for a development project is based on honoring the legacy of Daku Balay by following its footstep in creating an aesthetic architectural skyline for Bacolod and establishing an Art Deco District in the heart of the city. I was asked to lead the development plans and after over a year of planning and architectural search, Belle Arte Residential Condominiums was born, in 2014.
FAQ #2: Why Art Deco? What is Art Deco?
Ma. LVV: When you say “art deco,” it pertains to a particular era in the early 20th century that started in the West but was soon adopted worldwide, including Asia. The Art Deco period followed the Art Nouveau movement of the first two decades of the 20th century. By the mid-1920s, Art Deco replaced its predecessor in style and lifestyle, shedding off the decorative embellishments in art, architecture and fashion, replacing it with a more streamlined and sophisticated aesthetics. Polished metal of chrome, bronze and copper appeared in architectural details as well as in sculpture and furniture design. Graphic design and signage took on a distinct modernist turn, followed by fashion. Flapper design in women's clothes and accessories, enhanced by metallic fringes in formal wear, became a rave, along with men's sleek suit look of shimmering sharkskin and fedora hats. The art deco period was in full swing worldwide through the 1930s until the beginning of WWII. It was a style adopted seriously in Asia during this period -India, China, Singapore, Australia, Vietnam, and the Philippines. Manila began to build art deco structures in the early 1920s- at first by adding art deco details in traditional Spanish colonial buildings, such as deco-inspired metal grills in balustrades, semi-circular awnings in concrete over windows, or extravagant designs on metal grill entrance door. By 1930, entire public and private buildings, theaters, arenas, hotels, hospitals, private residences- were built in complete art deco style, both exterior and interior, including art and furniture and objets d'art. It was during the height of art deco building fever in the Philippines that our grandfather, Generoso M. Villanueva, built his “Daku Balay,” 1933-1936, the first in Bacolod City, and the largest structure of its kind south of Manila.
FAQ #3: Why does it matter that Belle Arte is built as art deco?
Ma. LVV: It matters the most to the heirs of Generoso Villanueva -meaning us, the developers- because there is no better way to express our appreciation and marvel at what our patriarch created and left as legacy not only to his family but to the city as a whole. He brought modernism to this rural backwater in the 1930s. By building Daku Balay, the tallest structure in Bacolod until 1939 in solid concrete, the first building to have an elevator, he was a bold visionary who didn’t allow societal pressures to restrict his dream of a modern city to live in. We’re not as pioneering in this project as our grandfather was with his house. We’re simply following his footsteps and continuing his work to bring style back which Art Deco is all about -STYLE- big time. We are lucky as developers to be also in love with art deco style, so it wasn’t a big stretch to use Art Deco as the inspiration and spirit with which to design Belle Arte Residential Condominiums. Our market study shows that Bacolod is ready to sell style along with superior quality condominiums. Belle Arte offers both, in a unique way, because of its Art Deco theme.
FAQ #4: What do you say to people who have reservations about the neighborhood where Belle Arte will rise?
Ma. LVV: You mean about the squatters next to the property? It is unfortunate, of course, that the city -no, the entire country- has this endemic issue to contend with! It’s not just one street that suffers from illegal settlers moving in and setting up businesses on the curbs and taking over private property for generations. What do I say to someone who has “reservations” about the neighborhood? My first response would be: Have you ever lived in the Philippines? Do you look around when you drive around the city, or anywhere in the Philippines and NOT see poor people around? Yes, it is a paradox of this country that there is so much wealth -in natural resources and in business- yet the poverty is staggering and are most prevalent in the cities. I don’t want to go into Economics 101 about this problem but being a New Yorker myself, I know what happens to run-down neighborhoods when development moves in. Developers must be driven hopefully not only by profit but also by a social consciousness so that their project will somehow benefit not only their pocketbook but enhance and uplift the lives of those in the neighborhood. In Belle Arte, we are compelled to build the eastern wall up to three floors and make it green and above the roof line of illegal settlers’ homes and buildings.
FAQ #5: There’s still so much land in Bacolod City. Will people actually buy a condominium over house and lot?
Ma. LVV: Yes, they do. Those who don’t want to bother anymore with staffing a house and lot, cut cost in maintenance, and those who want the convenience of locking up an apartment and go travel at a moment’s notice without a care. At Belle Arte, we will offer Concierge Services that will allow owners the luxury of hiring housekeeping and other services as necessary only. But for those who want the U.S.-style suburban living, where the community is gated and guarded and no illegal settlers can be seen anywhere and driving a car is a necessity to get anywhere, there’s plenty to choose from but outside of the city.
FAQ #6: When will Belle Arte be completed?
Ma. LVV: Construction will be completed by February/March 2017 and turnover to owners of units will occur soon thereafter.
FAQ #7: What's unique about Belle Arte interiors?
A) We designed the ceilings of the building to be as high as possible; thus, the ceiling is 2,90m high. The entrance door to each unit is 2,40m high and 0,90m wide.
B) The hallways are ___m wide with natural light from the interior skylight.
C) The units have real balcony each, the corner ones with wraparound balconies. The exceptions are the one-bedroom units from 4th to 7th floors that face the interior skylight well.
D) All two-bedroom units have 2 full baths.
E) The building has architectural detail inside/outside of art deco.
F) Glass block wall as separator in all bathrooms.
G) The glass windows and doors are high-quality UPVC and tempered glass that insulates and keeps the unit quiet from outside noise.
FAQ #8: Why the step-up of bathroom floors?
Ma. LVV: The step up allows plumbing for each unit to be contained within each unit. In case repair and maintenance are needed, the water leaking into the unit below will be prevented and thus, the liability of the unit owner is minimized if not completely avoided.
FAQ #9: What if I don't want a washing machine in my unit?
Ma. LVV: You can use the utility space however you want--turn it into a food pantry, or extra closet or storage area.
FAQ #10: Is there a swimming pool?
Ma. LVV: There will be a modern pool and clubhouse in the ground floor in Phase II of the development.