Dormitories seen as new growth area Doris Dumlao-Abadilla

Building dormitories for young professionals in the central business districts such as business process outsourcing (BPO) agents, is now seen as a new growth area for property developers.

Tuesday, conglomerate SM Investments Corp. confirmed that the group was in talks to acquire a growing chain of dormitory buildings under the “MyTown” brand, potentially debuting into such a specialized for-lease property segment.

“We confirm that the SM group is in discussion with the developer of MyTown,” SMIC said in a disclosure to the Philippine Stock Exchange.

It was earlier reported that SMIC’s property arm SM Prime Holdings was in talks with Philippines Urban Living Solutions Inc. (PULS), a leading owner, developer and manager of purpose-built staff-housing near the major central business districts in the Philippines under the “MyTown” brand.

PULS, an investee company of Franklin Templeton Investments and BPI Capital Corp., owns and manages five buildings in Makati and BGC with more than 1,000 beds all operated under the “MyTown” brand. The company specializes in building 10- to 20-square-meter residential units rented out near Metro Manila central business districts.

“I think it’s a great business if you can get a good price for the land,” said property expert David Leechiu, founder and chief executive officer Leechiu Property Consultants, when asked what he thought of the dormitory business as a new growth area for property developers. “The heavy traffic will just keep pushing people to the city.”

Across the metropolis, there is a growing pool of office workers–especially young people who had just entered the workforce–who need halfway homes but cannot afford yet to purchase their first residence.