ABOUT six years ago, the Borromeo family planned to convert their two-hectare commercial area along N. Escario St. into a mall as part of their rebranding strategy.

But the family had to let go of the idea, thinking it might be too late and not feasible for them to build one when big mall developers started gaining ground in Cebu, said Allen Andre Suarez, leasing and marketing director of Vibo Place (formerly known as Cebu Capitol Commercial Complex).

They also thought that the commercial area, which houses more office spaces, is too limited to be converted into a shopping and leisure center. According to Suarez, the commercial center has stopped drawing interest, both in business and foot traffic, over the past years.

The family explored other possibilities, which led to the birth of Vibo Place, a new addition to Cebu’s already thriving and vibrant lifestyle scene.

The family initially built Axis Entertainment Avenue at Vibo Place as a “teaser” to the five-year masterplan development of the Borromeos in the area. Suarez said they are earmarking at least P2 billion for the planned development.

“We built Axis because we are looking at having a small community within the city. We think that this is more feasible than our plan way back in 2010. We built a pocket lifestyle strip to spur excitement among locals,” said Suarez, who belongs to the third generation of the Borromeos.

“We’ve had no major development in the last 20 years. We strongly believe this is the right time to go full blast and realize the plans of my late grandfather, Benjamin Borromeo, to grow the family business,” he added.

The Borromeos own The Apartelle, Cebu Grand Hotel and Caiaa Center, to name a few, which are all under the Vibo Group of Companies, the family’s holding firm.

Axis Entertainment Avenue has 2,600 square meters of leasable area. It can house up to 32 tenants.

At present, the lifestyle strip has two anchors tenants--Burger King and Starbucks, the first drive-thru Starbucks facility outside Luzon and the largest Starbucks branch so far in Cebu City. It also has other eight tenants, which are all into food business located along a major traffic artery.

“We believe that pocket size developments such as Axis are more apt for a growing metropolis like Cebu. We aim to become a venue where people can relax after a long day at work and a new venue for small events, family and friends bonding at a more relaxed and warm atmosphere,” Suarez said, adding that the open spaces plus the garden feature will make Axis a distinct lifestyle destination in Cebu.

Aside from being hands-on in the development of Vibo Place, Suarez also said they are very selective in picking the right tenants who will occupy the strip. He said they only choose those who appreciate the concept of open spaces.

Axis Entertainment Avenue will be officially launched this month.

Right after the full development of the lifestyle strip, the family will embark on the construction of mixed-use towers to complete the integrated development in Vibo Place in two years’ time.

“Initially, the plan is to build three high-rise condominium towers for residential and commercial use,” said Suarez.