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An ecozone benchmark

By: Victor Anthony V. Silva June 09,2017 - 09:56 PM

SINULOG FIREWORK/JAN 15,2017: Fireworks display at Ayala Business Park in celebration with Fest of the Child Jesus. (CDN PHOTO/TONEE DESPOJO)

Cebu Business Park

As one of the most successful economic zones on the island of Cebu, the Cebu Business Park (CBP) in uptown Cebu City is seen as a good benchmark for other cities and towns in the province eyeing to set up their own hubs for development.

Roy Soledad, head of the Cebu Investment Promotions Office (CIPO), said the growth of the CBP can be a source of lessons for local government units in the province.

“It is very good to replicate it in other areas of the province, provided that the facilitating environment could happen – road networks, communication, and access to investors (should be addressed),” he told Cebu Daily News.

It was in the late 1980s, under the term of former governor Emilio Mario “Lito” Osmeña, when the provincial government sold its 45-hectare property, then used as the Club Filipino Golf Course, to the Ayala Corp.

The development features for the park was incorporated into the 1990 zoning ordinance of Cebu City while development work on the property was completed in 1992.

Owned and developed by Cebu Holdings, Inc. (CHI), an affiliate of Ayala Land, Inc., the CBP currently hosts around 150 companies ranging from business process outsourcing to industry-related firms, as well as various local and foreign banking institutions.

According to a project brief for the development, the park integrates business, high-rise residential, shopping, and sports and recreational facilities, offering a comprehensive range of support services including a mall, sports and recreation centers, convention facilities, and other special interest and attraction establishments.

Bring in investors

Presidential Proclamation 2053, issued on May 4, 2010, officially designated the CBP as an IT Park upon the recommendation of the Philippine Economic Zone Authority (PEZA).

With this, investors and locators in PEZA-accredited IT Parks will be entitled to certain fiscal and non-fiscal incentives to encourage the entry of investments.

“The CBP opened the doors for Cebu to bring in investors, both domestic and foreign. We hope that this can be replicated in other economic zones identified by local governments and even the provincial government,” Soledad said.

At present, the CBP is the largest operating PEZA-accredited IT park in the country.

Blueprint

Soledad said there is already a blueprint of how the developers of CBP did it, which he said can be used once local governments start master planning for their own economic zones.

He said this will be reflected in the Provincial Development and Physical Framework Plan (PDPFP), which he hopes his department and the Provincial Planning and Development Office (PPDO) can finalize by the end of June this year.

Planners of the proposed economic zones in Minglanilla in the south and Bogo City in the north can take hints from the CBP, Soledad added.

Both Minglanilla and Bogo City are planning to develop 100 hectares of land in their respective localities into economic zones.

The PPDO has identified 17 potential ecozones across the province based on the Comprehensive Land Use Plan of each of the local governments hosting these sites.

Access, centerpiece

Strategically located in uptown Cebu City, the CBP can be accessed from all points through major thoroughfares. Within the park are major hotels, condominiums, and restaurants.

The park’s centerpiece, Ayala Center Cebu, is home to 500 lifestyle and leisure outlets, generating high foot traffic every week, as well as boasts high-quality infrastructure.

Latitude project

These were the advantages considered by the park’s growing number of investors, among which is the joint venture between Cebu Landmasters, Inc. (CLI) and Borromeo Bros. Estate, Inc., which broke ground for its Latitude Corporate Center along Mindanao Avenue on Friday.

The Latitude project, which will rise on a 3,000-square meter property within the CBP, is a Grade A office building offering future-ready spaces for businesses of all sizes such as BPOs at 2,000 square meters, 151 to 320-sq. m. for enterprise and 51 to 105-sq. m. for executive.

Strategically located beside the Pag-IBIG Corporate Center, company executives earlier said the project was expected generate more foot traffic and enliven the “night life” in the area similar to the Cebu IT Park where CLI also has projects.

The 24-storey project was primed to be the tallest building within the business park.

“We also aim to be the best managed and best maintained building and for it to appreciate in value the most,” said Jose Franco Soberano, CLI chief operating officer, during the groundbreaking ceremony.

This was CLI’s first groundbreaking ceremony after it debuted on the stock exchange with a P3.8-billion initial public offering earlier this month.

Green building

Latitude will feature an eco-friendly design and will be registered with the Berde green building rating system.

Eighty percent of the building’s 83 units will be put up for leasing, while 20 percent will be for sale, many of which have been sold already.

The COO said they expect to begin construction “as soon as possible, top off the project in 18 months, and make full delivery in 30 months.

He said that this early, they have received many inquiries regarding the spaces for lease.

CLI president and chief executive officer Jose Soberano III, meanwhile, said they hope to expand the company’s sources of recurring income through projects such as Latitude.

Soberano said leasing currently stands at less than five percent in their portfolio.

Build, build, build

“Even with the things happening in the country, we are still positive, especially under the ‘build, build, build’ scheme of the current administration. Developers are looking at the Visayas and Mindanao areas,” he said.

The homegrown company, established in 2003, has seen tremendous growth in the last couple of years, clocking a compounded annual growth rate of 150 percent in net income over the last five years.

In the last three years, the company has grown on an average of 30 to 40 percent.

CLI currently has more than 20 existing and ongoing projects in Cebu City as well as in the Visayas and Mindanao, including condominiums, subdivisions, offices, and hotels.

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