A PRIVATE developer is offering Cebu City Hall a joint venture to develop Freedom Park, Warwick Barracks and Carbon Market, which could pave the way for the rehabilitation of the area to make it a modern and more tourist-friendly market.

Mayor Michael Rama said the two-hectare Freedom Park and Warwick Barracks, and the adjacent Carbon markets, are part of his Downtown Revitalization Project, and the private sector may be tapped for it.

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The City received an offer from the Gaisano-owned Taft Property Ventures to develop the property, but no specific details on the offer were given yet.

Assistant City Administrator for economic enterprises Rene Sanapo said whatever development is introduced in the area, the market vendors should be allowed to remain there and continue to sell cheap and fresh produce.

Freedom Park and Warwick Barracks in Barangay Ermita are currently occupied by dry goods, vegetable and flower vendors.

“That area is being used as a dry market and whatever developments they have in mind, we want that it will result to a more economically active and orderly market. But we have to wait for the details of their offer and listen to what they have in mind,” Sanapo said.

Master plan

In a letter addressed to the mayor, Taft Property Ventures project development officer Maria Victoria Secretaria expressed their company’s interest in developing Freedom Park, Warwick Barracks and other neighboring parcels of land owned by the City.

“We are manifesting to enter into a joint venture with the City, through your office, in introducing development interventions in the area through an acceptable and viable master plan. Initial projection is for the breakup of the development of the Freedom Park-Warwick-Carbon Units-Waterfront lots corridor into project phases,” she said.

Sanapo said in an interview yesterday that in the joint venture, the City-owned properties may be the City’s equity in the deal, while Taft Property Ventures could shoulder the cost of the construction of buildings.

But this would still depend on what the developer wants, subject to the approval of Rama and the City Council.

Aside from keeping the place orderly and preserving cultural heritage, the revitalization of the downtown streets is intended to make the area a safe place for locals and tourists.

The Warwick Baracks, built in the early part of the 1900s, was the military stronghold of the Americans.