Philippines' Ayala in $1.5 bln property project

Philippine property giant Ayala Land Inc. said Thursday it will spend 64 billion pesos ($1.5 billion) over the next 15 years to develop a former squatter colony in a suburb of the capital.

The 29-hectare (72-acre) lot in the largely-residential Quezon City area will be a joint venture with the government's National Housing Authority which owns the property, company spokesman Jorge Marco said.

Ayala, known for its upscale housing, office and shopping mall projects, will develop the area while the housing authority will retain the real estate, he added.

"It will house both residential, office, retail and hotel units," he told AFP.

The first phase, spanning about four years, will involve setting up three buildings for business process outsourcing operations, along with a business hotel and a mall in a seven-hectare section, he said.

This first stage will cost about 12 billion pesos.

Much of the area was once a gigantic squatter area where some 6,000 families lived in squalor.

Hundreds of these squatters rioted in 2010 to oppose their relocation, forcing President Benigno Aquino to postpone the demolition of their shanties.

The area covered by the first phase of the project has already been cleared of squatters who have been relocated by the government, Marco said.

Ayala Land, the flagship of the diversified Ayala Corp. conglomerate, posted a 31 percent growth in its net profit last year, hitting 7.14 billion pesos.

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