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[Cebu City] City Hall starts talks on 2 projects

Monday, September 29, 2008 [ sunstar.com.ph ]

CEBU CITY -- Following Filinvest Land Inc.'s (FLI) offer, Cebu City Hall is starting talks with the Aznar family for the purchase and development of up to 100 hectares of their estate in barangays Pardo and Toong for an "urban poor city" there.

The City has also started discussions with the Asian Development Bank (ADB) for possible funding of the 5.6-kilometer highway that will connect SRP to Pardo and Toong.

Both projects were announced by Mayor Tomas Osmeña last year. He said they will be possible once the City starts earning from the South Road Properties (SRP).

"With Filinvest's offer, the City is now in the position to start talking to the Aznars for the purchase of the lot... This is a commitment of the mayor that he intends to keep. We are now talking to the concerned parties and we intend to push through with it," City Administrator Francisco Fernandez told Sun.Star Cebu.

Fernandez and representatives of ADB and the Aznar-owned Alta Vista Golf and Country Club visited the site of the proposed urban poor city last Friday, a day after the FLI presented to city officials their formal offer to buy SRP lots.

Now that FLI has formally announced its plan to buy a 10-hectare SRP lot worth P2 billion and develop 40 hectares under a joint venture agreement with the City, the highway and the new barangay can materialize soon, he said.

The 50 to 100 hectares of land is intended to be the site of an urban poor settlement and is seen to address the housing needs that may arise because of the SRP.

Industries ranging from call centers, a hospital, educational institutions, retirement facilities, hotels, a yacht club, government offices and a stadium or coliseum that the City hopes to host in the 290-hectare facility are expected to generate at least 30,000 jobs.

"In similar projects, governments don't prepare for the economic growth that it will bring. We're now doing the exact opposite. There will be a high demand for housing once the industries start to operate, and we have to prepare for that," Fernandez said.

The mayor had earlier proposed to create a new barangay in the south district, where illegal occupants of private properties in the city and those living along riverbanks can be relocated.

So the City can get a good deal with the Aznars, illegal occupants on the family's properties in the city will be prioritized.

"We have already identified the lots in Toong and Pardo for the urban poor na magkinahanglan ug yuta (who will need a relocation site). We are going to create an urban poor city to accommodate people who will work in the SRP," he said.

Tax credits

Aside from the priority it will give to occupants of the Aznar properties in the city, the City will also extend tax credits to the Aznars if they agree to sell their lots below their current market values, Fernandez said.

To make the new barangay and the Alta Vista Golf and Country Club accessible to SRP workers and investors, a 5.6-kilometer highway is also being planned.

From SRP to Pardo, the highway is estimated to be 3.6- kilometer long, and will stretch another two kilometers from Pardo to Toong. The highway is also seen to give the public easier access to Toong, a mountain barangay.

Infrastructure

The ADB is now studying if the infrastructure can be integrated into the projects within the SRP that it intends to finance.

"ADB is giving us a grant for SRP development projects so the ADB is now looking into the possibility of making the highway a component of that project. The SRP is an economic development project for the City that will bring in growth, and we should be prepared for that," he added. (LCR/Sun.Star Cebu)

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