FOR the past 40 years, a prime property along Escario St. in Cebu City seemed underutilized.

Now the family that owns it has announced bold development plans for their property for the next 10 years.

While many companies sought to purchase what was once called the Cebu Capitol Commercial Complex, the Borromeo family, which is behind the 2.2-hectare Vibo Place, held on to it and envision more opportunities in the area to come.

“Conservatism” in the family, noted company president Gerardo V. Borromeo, was the reason for the property’s late bloom.

“My father (Benjamin) wanted to make sure that everything will be in place, the old school (way),” said Gerardo, who has since taken over as company president in 2009.

“It was a long process. It took us time to develop (the complex.) However, because of further studies, our consultants told us that we should have a different concept and we should not be competing with other big players,” he added.

Originally, the family wanted to developo a shopping mall, but plans were changed and the decision was to convert it to a small integrated community in uptown Cebu City instead. Hence, Vibo Place was formed, a combination of Gerardo’s parents last names, Villacarlos and Borromeo, which also means glee in the local dialect.

Vibo Place houses the Axis Entertainment Avenue, a six-building lifestyle cluster where Starbucks, the first outside Manila with a drive-through, Burger King, Pigafetta, Suzukaze, Ilaputi, Señor Kimchi LA Street Food and Birdseed All-Day Breakfast Club stand. And there are more to come, said Axis marketing and leasing head Allen Andre B. Suarez, the youngest member of the family that has joined the team.

Vibo Place is also the same community where the Cebu Grand Hotel, The Apartelle, and CAIAA Center sit, all owned by the family. Back in the 1980s, it was known for the Gardenia Restaurant and Ballroom. It was also home to Red Tomato in the early 2000s.

In the coming years, Gerardo said the plan is to add an office building, a supermarket and a residential component inside the property. By next year, the office building project and a condominium tower will start construction. “But the plan is to really integrate it as one in the next 10 years,” said the 62-year-old businessman.

Previously, the company said it has earmarked at least P2 billion for the project. Axis, according to Gerardo, is only a teaser for what’s to come in Vibo Place.

As the Borromeo family continues to widen its range of services and entertainment offerings in Vibo Place, he expressed confidence that the family-run business will be a landmark in the city.