SM City North EDSA, one of the most iconic shopping malls in the country, has been an epitome of how SM malls have transformed to meet the shifting needs and demands of consumers in a dynamic Philippine retail environment.
From a footprint of only 125,000 square meters on opening in 1985, SM’s very first mall has grown in size to almost 498,000 square meters, housing more stores, concepts and ideas in keeping with today’s consumer trends and preferences.
Speaking before SM’s retail partners during the 30th anniversary of SM Supermalls last October, SM Prime Holdings President Hans T. Sy said that the retail landscape in the last thirty years “has become more global and competitive where technology has forever changed the way we live and do things.”
Opened in November 1985, SM City North EDSA is SM Founder Henry Sy’s first shopping mall and now the largest in the Philippines.
“Ever the visionary, my father thought of building malls when he saw the shopping center development in the US during his business trips abroad in the 1950s and 1960s. That was the time when ‘burbs’ or suburbs were being built in the outskirts of big cities with a shopping mall as the center. He saw this development from the east to the west coast and knew this would happen in the Philippines,” Sy said.
SM North EDSA was completed by Henry Sy, Sr. amidst one of the most turbulent times in Philippine history. Sy recounted that when his father started building SM City North EDSA in 1983, people thought it was a crazy idea as it happened during a political crisis where interest rates rocketed to as high as 45%. More so, the location of the mall was right smack in the middle of a marshland on North EDSA.
“They said that SM City would not succeed, but the mall was an instant success. And the rest they say is history,” Sy told retail partners.
Creating shared value
SM City North EDSA proved to be highly successful and transformative for its host communities. With new business opportunities, the mall hastened economic activity and infrastructure development to and from Manila and nearby provinces as it was touted as an important regional destination.
Proof of its impact, the value of property in the area showed exceptional growth. Data from the Bureau of Internal Revenue show that from an initial zonal value of Php2,500 per square meter in 1990, land values around the mall soared to Php40,000 per square meter in 2000. It also opened employment opportunities, both direct and indirect, generating approximately over 6,000 jobs from SM, its agencies and tenants. Since its opening, it has consistently been one of the top tax payers in the Quezon City.
Business sustainability is also at the forefront of the mall’s operations throughout the years where its environmental programs can be summed up into three main areas: (1) awareness (2) conservation and preservation and (3) disaster risk reduction.
For its awareness programs, SM Prime invites its tenants to learn more about environmental conservation and preservation by holding its annual Green Retail Agenda. SM City North EDSA shuts off its lights to participate in EARTH HOUR, the world largest celebration to raise awareness on environmental issues.
Through its energy conservation efforts, SM currently is the selected location for the 1.5 megawatts of solar energy through its 5,760 solar panels which offset 1,200 CO2 which is equivalent to planting 6,000 trees a year. The mall also uses LEDs for lighting.
Along with other SM malls, it also implements a water conservation program which recycles about 30% of total consumed water. The recycled water is used for the malls’ cooling towers, toilet flushing and grounds keeping.
It also participates in the Tenant Solid Waste Management Program which requires all tenants to segregate their waste. Through the “Trash to Cash” program, the mall invites its customers to bring their trash to the mall and exchange it to cash.
During times of calamity, SM City North EDSA partners with SM Foundation in distributing relief packs and opening its doors to serve as a safe refuge for affected families in the area.
The mall’s high visibility and foot traffic was also instrumental in the success of its tenants who have, in turn, been loyal partners of SM as it continues to expand in the country.
“Some of you helped us make malling a phenomenon when we built SM Megamall in 1991. Many of you grew with us as we experienced malling milestones: our foray into the provincial areas when we opened SM City Cebu which was followed by an aggressive expansion program to key cities around the Philippines. You were with us when we sought to make the SM Mall of Asia the premier destination mall in the region and when we ventured into more upscale projects like SM Aura Premier and the Mega Fashion Hall,” Sy told retail partners.
A dynamic mall
From its original shoe-box design, SM City North EDSA evolved to become the country’s largest mall that draws an average foot traffic of 420,000 shoppers a day.
Through the years, the mall has gone through several redevelopments which began with the Car Park Plaza in 1988, the SM Annex in 1989, the Block in 2006, The Annex and Interior Zone in 2008, the Sky Garden in 2009 and The Northlink in 2010.
Complementing these developments, SM built new spaces for various concepts such as for business process outsourcing (BPO) companies and other private offices. One is The North Link, a six-story building and The SM Cyber West Avenue, a fifteen-story building which will be linked via bridge way to the SM City North EDSA mall and the nearby MRT station. Complementing the integrated approach is Grass Residences, a five-tower residential condominium building which stands on a five-hectare property within the SM City North EDSA Complex.
Even today, Sy said that SM City North EDSA will continue to grow “like a vibrant city as it adds more office spaces and a hospitality complex, a unique combination of high end retail, dining and green spaces, highlighted by a series of five cascading office towers connected by pedestrian sky bridges.
With SM City North EDSA as the flagship, SM continues to build malls and lifestyle cities, at a rate of four to five malls a year. Its recent lifestyle city development, SM Seaside City in Cebu, fashioned after SM Mall of Asia, promises to bring the shopping, dining, entertainment, working and the living experience to a whole new level in the Southern Philippine region.
“We have changed the Filipino lifestyle forever. Our malls are indeed as they are called—cities, places where families and friends gather together to shop, eat out, have fun, and even do their business transactions and hear Mass. We have become part of the lives of millions of Filipinos,” Sy said.