When I was growing up, my cousins lived in this building on Central Park West.
Those of you with sharp eyes will recognize that unique awning – this where Bill Murray, Sigourney Weaver and Rick Moranis all lived in Ghostbusters. My cousin Shirley and her family lived in this building for decades. She was my mother’s lifelong best friend, owned a second apartment in the building, and right around the time I was born offered to sell that apartment to my parents for $25,000. My father rejected the offer saying, “Who buys an apartment?” Years later, many years later, when my cousins finally sold that apartment, they sold it for $5 million. Sigh.
I’m reminded of that almost every day because almost every day I see a building complex here in Manila called Serendra.
Built by Ayala, when it opened in 2004 it was the first luxury residence in BGC. A couple of years after it opened, when there was a dip in the local economy, I’m told that a lot of people who bought condos there needed to raise cash and were looking to unload their places fast and cheap. “You should buy a place here,” my friends said. “Why would I buy a place there? I’m never going to live in the Philippines!”
More fool me.
Every time we would come out of SM Aura, I would look across the street and think to myself, I could have been living there. And for the past four months, my office has been right across the street from Serendra. I see it every day. I go downstairs for a smoke, I look across the street, and, well, that’s life.
As it happens, my company leases an apartment there for out-of-town visitors. It’s a small studio apartment just a short walk from our office. And, just this week, I was able to convince them to let me stay there for two nights. So for the first time I’ve actually been able to walk around inside the complex. Here’s the pool, looking down from where we’re staying.
They claim that 65% of the land area is dedicated to landscape and “amenities”. Here’s a couple of shots as I was walking to work this morning.
Not too shabby, eh? Living here wouldn’t suck.
Back when my friends were telling me to buy a place there, I think the price of a 2 bedroom was around P5 million (roughly US$100k). Now a 2 bedroom is going for over P20 million. I saw an ad for a penthouse (3 bedrooms, 405 square meters, private pool) for P195 million – almost US$4 million!
Of course I can’t turn back time. I can’t send a message back to my (slightly) younger self. I can only look across the street and sigh.