Patria de Cebu to be transformed into a centerpiece of celebrations marking 500th year of Christianity in Cebu
In a few years, Cebu City’s downtown area could be just as bustling as the current business districts and city centers.
Public infrastructure and private investments have started pouring in in the area including a new hotel and the upcoming Cebu-Cordova Link Expressway which will connect Mactan Island to Cebu City.
To add to that, the Archdiocese of Cebu has partnered with a private developer in transforming the Patria de Cebu, which is located right across the Cebu Metropolitan Cathedral, into a busy commercial area.
Cebu Landmasters Inc. (CLI) will be constructing a mixed-use development in the close to 7,000-square meter lot where the Patria de Cebu currently stands.
It will have public piazza, a hotel, department store, supermarket, restaurants, and office spaces.
“Most churchgoers, when they have finished attending the Masses will have this usual difficulty in having to go somewhere else. Whereas if you have an amenity just across where you can have your merienda, lunch, or dinner, that will be a big help,” said Jose Soberano III, CLI president and chief executive officer.
CLI is investing around P900 million for the redevelopment of the 6,670-square meter property of the Archdiocese.
The developer entered into a 40-year land lease agreement with the Archdiocese of Cebu for the project.
A contract signing was held last Monday wherein CLI handed over a P50 million check to the Archdiocese as initial payment.
They are one of five property developers who submitted proposals upon hearing of the church’s plans.
Archbishop Jose Palma said the board of the Patria de Cebu decided to accept CLI’s proposal as they found it better and more “practical” than the other plans submitted.
Take care of God’s gifts
He recalled that the archdiocese had been wanting to redevelop the area to make it more useful.
“The whole idea in the mind of the Church was that we should take care of the gifts of the Lord. For instance, the land. To the extend that we can make something beautiful out of that and make it serve a noble purpose,” Palma said.
He added the the archdiocese is also looking at other plans and developments to help develop the surrounding area where the Cebu Metropolitan Cathedral is located.
Revitalizing the area
The Archdiocese is also working with the Cebu City government in aligning their plans with the city in terms of revitalizing the downtown area.
Fr. Brian Brigoli, chairman of the Cebu Archdiocesan Commission for the Cultural Heritage of the Church, said they are eyeing other heritage sites in the downtown area to be developed.
“We are finding elements of heritage and to make use of new demands and uses of time. In the Church side, we are working hand in hand with government agencies on how we can go about this common dream,” he said.
The area is also near the Basilica Minore del Sto. Nino and the Magellan’s Cross as well as the busy Colon Street.
Property management and research firm Colliers International Philippines earlier recommended for developers to explore projects with cultural and historical aspects.
Colliers’ Research Manager Joey Bondoc, said developers can transform historical structures into redeveloped boutique hotels or retail areas, among others.
At the same time, he said there should also be government support like incentives to attract more developers into revitalizing the downtown area.
The Patria de Cebu, which was established in 1956, currently offers budget-friendly accommodations for travelers.
From its origins as a youth recreation center, the area had also served as a convent for nuns, before eventually becoming a budget-friendly hostel for city visitors who need clean, safe, yet inexpensive accommodations.
Considering the need to address some settlers in the property, CLI eyes to start site excavation by January and actual construction within the first quarter of 2019.
CLI and the Archdiocese of Cebu expect to partially complete the project by 2021 to serve as a centerpiece of the 500th year celebration of Christianity in Cebu.
“At the very least, by March or April of 2021, we will already have the piazza or the public space which will be like a courtyard. The buildings may not be finished yet,” Soberano said.
The complex will have two towers — one with six floors and the other with 14 floors — which will be interconnected.
CLI Chief Operations Officer Jose Franco Soberano explained that they had to dig deep in crafting a development plan for Patria de Cebu.
“We have to respect the historical heritage of the area while bringing in something new. There are new needs and there are new experiences and we want to also attract the youth,” the younger Soberano said.
“We also want to be close to the downtown. It’s in need of much revitalization. We need these new thoughtfully-planned developments that are very connected with the Church,” he added.
Piazzas in Rome
Bong Racio, the principal architect for the project, said their design for Patria de Cebu is inspired by the piazzas in Rome, which are popular gathering places for the public.
Once the project is finished, he said they expect people to flock to the area as well.
The courtyard itself will be “instagrammable” so people can take photos in it and post it on their social media accounts.
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