When the running boom began about a decade ago, the races my friends and I ran were mostly in Fort Bonifacio. The routes within the area were not always the same; some races had runners making loops or going up the Buendia flyover while others went through Lawton Avenue and into McKinley Hill.
This was my first glimpse at Megaworld’s McKinley Hill — when it was just starting to be built. In those wide spaces just off C-5 and easily accessible from Makati, The Fort and SLEX, we wondered how it would look years later.
Well, that was many years ago. Today, Metro Manila’s biggest master-planned township (it occupies 50 hectares) has grown beautifully through the years with its mix of office and residential blocks, a residential village, sports facilities, and its own mall which opened last year.
I recently visited McKinley Hill and its new Venice Grand Canal and loved how different it looks than your usual urban development.
Walking around here, it’s easy to see why people have chosen to live, work, play, learn and shop here. Here are reasons why McKinley Hill has become the coolest city within a city.
1. The Venice Grand Canal and its cinemas. Yep, like the romantic city of Venice, it is the most romantic mall in the country thanks to a manmade canal that winds through the mall. Special gondolas were commissioned from Italy and brought here. In the afternoons, you can see people enjoying a ride through the winding canal, which is even prettier at night when the lights strung across are switched on.
Located on the 3rd floor of the mall is the state-of-the-art Venice Cineplex, which has five world-class movie theaters with plush and comfortable seats and equipped with the latest big screen and sound system technology guarantee to elevate the film viewing experience like never before. Cinemas 2 and 5 are operating in the Dolby Atmos System, an award-winning multi-dimensional sound program for an immersive experience.
Not to be missed is the VIP Cinema, a signature of Megaworld Lifestyle Malls in its Eastwood, Lucky Chinatown, Newport and Uptown Cinemas. It offers a butler service that will keep drinks and popcorn flowing with a touch-of a button for a more convenient movie viewing experience. Moviegoers can also buy their movie tickets to Venice Cineplex.
Along with the all-time favorite retail boutiques is a Robinsons Supermarket, making grocery shopping for residents very convenient.
2. Picture-pretty surroundings and unique architecture. I had been in the mall less than five minutes and had already seen about eight to 10 people taking selfies. It was the same at Venice Piazza outside the mall — and, in fact, throughout McKinley Hill. The architecture is a mix of Italian and Mediterranean, bringing in the colors and vibe from this part of Europe. St. Mark’s Square, for instance, is replicated in the façade of the mall and the sculptures, while a Rialto Bridge crosses the canal inside.
Apart from these themes, you also see modern office buildings and homes, particularly in McKinley Hill Village, a 10-hectare, 450-lot residential enclave where most houses have contemporary architecture with glass picture windows.
Outside the village are 34 condominiums, including The Florence and McKinley Hill’s landmark residential development, The Venice Luxury Residences, a seven-tower residential development designed by Italian architect Paolo Marioni Architetto, offering studio to three-bedroom units. Imagine waking up and looking out your window and the Venice Grand Canal!
3. The institutions. McKinley Hill hosts international institutions such as the embassies of Great Britain, Korea, and UAE, as well as educational institutions such as the Chinese International School Manila, Korean International School Philippines, and the prestigious culinary and hospitality academy Enderun Colleges. The schools are particularly well loved by parents as they make raising a family convenient and in a safe and secure environment.
4. The restaurants and cafes. Venice Grand Canal boasts a string of restaurants you won’t find anywhere else. Established restaurateurs like Melo’s are offering new dining concepts only in McKinley Hill. All around the township are café and restaurant strips making it convenient for BPO workers, shoppers, residents and visitors to take a break and enjoy being with friends over a meal.
5. It’s a solid investment. I’m told that a lot of homeowners bought homes for investment reasons and have turned their units into Airbnb rental because tourists prefer to base themselves in McKinley Hill when visiting the Philippines. Or, they’ve leased them long term to expats and locals working in McKinley Hill. Properties in McKinley Hill have an average annual value appreciation rate of 15 percent. Surpassing this figure, the McKinley Hill Village has appreciated over 228 percent in the 10 years since its launch.
6. It’s ready for the future. McKinley Hill is home to about 80,000 BPO workers (Megaworld’s Eastwood City in QC hosts around 75,000) in smart and technologically advanced offices built by Megaworld. In fact, the American banking and financial services firm Wells Fargo has its Asian headquarters here and is constructing another building for its expansion. More than 60 multinational companies currently hold their offices in the township with approximately 55,000 employees that choose McKinley Hill as their preferred hub for Philippine operations. The Philippine Economic Zone Authority (PEZA)-accredited cyberpark features world-class office buildings including the country’s first LEED Gold-Certified building for Business Process Outsourcing (BPO) companies, the 8 Campus Place.
7. A world-class football pitch. Called The McKinley Hill Stadium, it’s a 15,000-sqm. stadium with a seating capacity of more than 2,000 and uses artificial turf from a company certified by FIFA. Plus, this is where the Azkals train!
8. It feels that you’re outside the hustle and bustle of Metro Manila. There’s just something about McKinley Hill that makes the vibe laidback even though you’re surrounded by offices, residences, schools and a mall. Maybe because it’s a city within a city that, once you’re inside, you feel that you’re in a different kind of environment — like you’re abroad but, really, you’re home.