I suppose it was inevitable, But in a way, it is also a sign as to how far has development come to the Fort Bonifacio commercial-business district, the Bonifacio Global City in particular, whether it was for the good or otherwise. Nothing can emphasize this point more than seeing one day that retail giant SM has set foot in this bustling district, unlikely as it may be in the first place.
It was not really a smooth sailing for this mall, a result of a complicated history regarding the land it was built on. Originally, the land was a donation of the Bases Conversion Development Authority (BCDA) and its private partner, Ayala, to the Taguig City government for “institutional purposes,” to be the precise, for the purpose of building a civic center, with a park and events venue, among others. What Taguig did however was to let SM come in the picture, and leased to them the property (or portion of it, conflicting information I’m getting here) to build the civic center. While the civic center concept is still in place and the area is still technically to be a civic center, the entry of SM to develop this place complicated matters which has resulted into an ongoing court case.
Apparently, SM has a different idea in mind as to what a civic center is, though there is some basis for it as apparently, there seem to be different interpretations as to what composes a civic center. SM’s civic center component included something they are very well-known for, a shopping mall. Not just any shopping mall though, but an upscale shopping mall (or as SM would brand it, a premier mall) catering to the A-B class demographics who mostly compose the residents in the BGC.
The result is the SM Aura Premier, which just opened last May 16 with bang and Sarah Jessica Parker on the side. At first read, the choice of name is radically different from the traditional names SM gives to its malls. But apparently, its name was from an amalgamation of the chemical symbols of gold (Au) and Radium (Ra) which to SM signifies luxury and elegance. (in addition, it is said that there’s some numerology involved as well as the atomic numbers of gold-79 and radium-88 are considered as lucky numbers)
For one, the Urban Roamer has to laud SM’s efforts to make this particular SM mall different from the other SM malls that are in existence. From the presence of high-end stores which make their first foray in the Philippine market, to the playful and modern interior design employed especially in the supermarket, foodcourt, and cinemas. Not to mention the granite floor tiles which I believe is the first in an SM mall, I believe.
For someone who has seen SM North EDSA’s SkyGarden, the SM Aura’s SkyPark is a pleasant surprise with such neat and simple landscaping, albeit some parts are yet to be completed.
On the other hand, the interior walkways are too narrow for a place like SM which is sure to generate so much foot traffic, especially during sale events. Even the SkyPark suffers from limited space for walkways. Another issue here is that there is no decent walkway that will link SM Aura to nearby areas like Serendra and Market Market right across it. Now I understand the current dispute may be a factor, but it will greatly help in easing the traffic there which is already bad as it is so I don’t have to even get started on that.
Considering the other components of this “civic center” (at least it is still officially considered as such) have yet to be completed like the hotel/office building, the performance hall, and domed Catholic chapel named after Pedro Calungsod, not to mention premiere tenants still to open, it will be interesting to see how the SM Aura at the Bonifacio Civic Center would be like, considering how much deviation may have been involved from the property’s original intent.
© the Urban Roamer