THE South Road Properties (SRP) landed in the news recently after the new Cebu City administration under Mayor Edgardo Labella demanded that Filinvest Land Inc. (FLI) remove the posts of a structure in FLI’s IL Corso development along the south coastal road that had encroached on the sidewalk and violated setback regulations. The City’s action mirrored then mayor Tomas Osmeña’s move in 2017, asking SM Seaside to relocate its cube sculpture, citing sidewalk encroachment. The cube remained but the sidewalk was expanded. In FLI ‘s case, it has conceded and will remove the errant posts.
But what’s the point in mentioning all these? Simply put, they underscore the transactional and reactive approaches the Cebu City Government has adopted to manage the SRP development. In 1995, the Japanese lent money to Cebu City for developing the SRP into another export processing zone to complement the Mactan Export Processing Zone. In 2009, however, Cebu City changed the SRP’s purpose, from that of an export processing zone to a mixed-use development of commercial businesses, light industry, housing and service firms. The Asian Financial Crisis more than a decade earlier was cited as the primary justification, but the desire of Cebu City authorities to retain exclusive control of the SRP’s future seems a more plausible explanation. The Philippine Economic Zone Authority would have oversight if the original purpose were pursued. With the change, Cebu City became a real estate developer with 300 hectares at its disposal. A prudent step then would have been to engage an urban designer to map out land use patterns and prepare a coherent development plan. Apparently, this was not done and instead, the City decided to do it on its own, selling a parcel here, leasing a parcel there and entering into joint ventures in between.
The Standard English dictionary defines endgame as “the final stage of an extended process or course of events, implying the imminent realization of a masterful strategy or plan.” If there is no strategy or plan, can there be an endgame? Obviously not, but think of all the positive endgame scenarios had there been a strategy or plan to start with. Imagine a beautiful seaside park looking out into the 3rd Cebu-Mactan bridge (Sigh!).