Templeton-backed dormitory builder unveils flagship project,to expand to 6,000 beds by 2018

Manila, Philippines—Philippines Urban Living Solutions (PULS), Inc., an investee company of Franklin Templeton Investments and BPI Capital Corporation, recently announced the opening of MyTown New York, its latest and biggest for-lease dormitory development under its MyTown rental brand.

PULS was set up in 2011 and formally established in 2012 as the first Philippine company that specializes in building 10- to 20-square meter affordable units, rented out near Metro Manila central business districts, specifically catering to the underserved young professional demographic.

PULS operates five projects with over 1,000 beds and is currently constructing an additional five projects that can house an additional 1,400 beds. It plans to utilize and expand its land bank to reach 6,000 beds by 2018.

Precursor to the concept

“The MyTown concept was developed to service a growing Philippine workforce that pours into central business districts on a daily basis. For example, our biggest service area is Bonifacio Global City, which is projected to have 360,000 office workers by 2018—most of whom would have to travel in and out of the district as they cannot afford to live there,” says Mark Kooijman, Chief Executive Officer of PULS.

“Our concept attempts to bring back three to four hours of lost time and productivity during a worker’s daily commute, while decongesting roads and public transport,” he adds.

PULS currently manages four operational mid-rise dormitory buildings: MyTown Paris, MyTown Manila, MyTown Dublin, and MyTown London. Its fifth and latest project, MyTown New York, is PULS’ largest project to date with about 700 beds and unparalleled amenities such as a lap pool and full gym, as well as retail outlets tailored to the young executive lifestyle.

PULS only leases to corporate clients with a one to three-year contract, but Kooijman says that PULS is considering the possibility of renting to individuals once they have adequate room supply.

Dormitory unit and building specifics

MyTown units come in four configurations, each fully-furnished with a bath, kitchenette, a desk, and smart bunk beds with ergonomic gadget provisions. In addition, MyTown buildings have a wide range of comprehensive amenities and recreational areas. MyTown New York is also equipped with a movie theater, game rooms, resto bars, KTV rooms, function and study rooms, and a roof deck.

MyTown buildings also come with retail outlets, such as convenience stores, restaurants, coffee shops, payment centers, laundromats, and pharmacies aimed to create an entirely new accommodation concept catered to the young urban executive. Monthly rental starts at P4,800.

Investment partners

In December 2015, Franklin Templeton, through the Templeton Strategic Emerging Markets Fund IV LDC, along with BPI Capital Corporation, invested in PULS using convertible notes. This investment, according to Kooijman, is currently being used to finance construction on its existing land bank, as well as selective additional land purchases. BPI Capital also acts as PULS’ financial advisor.

Templeton’s Strategic Emerging Markets Fund IV is a private equity fund managed by the Templeton Emerging Markets Group of Templeton Asset Management Ltd. (“TAML”), with strategic investments in emerging market companies all over the world. The Templeton Emerging Markets Group, headed by Dr. Mark Mobius, has made investments in companies located in China, India, Brazil, Russia, Vietnam and other emerging market countries. TAML is a subsidiary of Franklin Resources, Inc.

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Philippines Urban Living Solutions (PULS) unveils its flagship project, MyTown New York, with (L-R): BPI Capital Corporation Managing Director Reggie Cariaso, Templeton Emerging Markets Group Head Mark Mobius, PULS Chief Executive Officer Mark Kooijman and PULS Directors Steven Zwaan and Jelmer Ikink.