CEBU Archbishop Jose Palma is opening the door for developers who are interested to develop the idle properties of the Archdiocese of Cebu scattered around Cebu Province.

The announcement came yesterday during the press conference for the 23 Minore Park, a commercial development of homegrown developer Duros Land Properties Inc., nestled inside the property of the Archdiocese of Cebu, where St. John XXIII Seminary in Mabolo used to stand.

“We are throwing the idea at the moment. Anybody who would hear of it and is interested can come to us,” Palma said, noting that whatever proceeds it can get from the dealings would be distributed to the pastoral and mercy works of the Church.

The Archbishop, however, emphasized that the church is not selling the lands, but welcomes a built-operate-transfer scheme with developers in the same way the 23 Minore Park operates.

Rafaelito Barino, Duros Group chair, said his company and the Archdiocese of Cebu has agreed to a 25-year leasing of the latter’s property.

“The Archdiocese will not get any in 25 years but after 25 years, everything, the buildings, hotel, a superstore, will be returned to them,” Barino said in Cebuano at the sidelines of the press conference.

Duros Land is also the company responsible for the construction of the International Eucharistic Congress (IEC) Pavilion. The company computed a P3-billion investment for the IEC and 23 Minore Park.

The two-hectare 23 Minore Park will host an international hotel chain, Landers superstore, an outdoor chapel, and a park.

Construction will begin late this year. Landers will open in the first quarter of 2017 and the hotel will start operations in the last quarter of next year.

23 Minore Park project director Lydwena Eco said the project will be open for visitors as early as November so people can enjoy the green gardens and open spaces of the development.

Palma said this is the biggest build-operate-transfer venture of the Archidiocese to date. Pocket developments of commercial projects have been done within church properties in the past, in collaboration with the private sector. Palma, however, said he could not cite the total size of the Archdiocese-owned land, saying that these lands are in chunks.

The Archbishop cited Patria de Cebu, a Church property in front the Cebu Cathedral in downtown Cebu City, as part of its properties it is willing to open up for development.

“The point is it (land) is not being used to the best of its potential. What we can do to have the optimum benefit from that area, we will do it because that’s how we ought to be real stewards,” Palma said.