Friday, August 23, 2013

Roxas Boulevard Redevelopment Project Hailed by Stakeholders

Wazzup Pilipinas!

The Department of Tourism (DOT) and Department of Public Works and Highways (DPWH) unveiled joint plans to redevelop Roxas Boulevard into a park complex by 2015 in a presentation to stakeholders held on 16 August 2013 at the Diamond Hotel.

The event was presided by DOT Secretary Ramon R. Jimenez Jr., DPWH Secretary Rogelio I. Singson, and the architect for the project, Mr. Paulo Alcazaren. It was attended by more than 100 stakeholders from the government, private sector involved in property development and other business establishments located along the boulevard, and media.

“The Roxas Boulevard Park Redevelopment project is a convergence between national government agencies, local government units, and the private sector. This is not just a beautification project. This program will reestablish the importance of Manila as a capital city and enhance the value of property all over the district that it crosses. This is a business plan aimed at restoring and enhancing Manila as a viable capital for tourism and business,” Tourism Secretary Ramon R. Jimenez, Jr. said.

The Roxas Boulevard Park project that spans almost eight kilometers and the three cities of Manila, Pasay, and Parañaque will begin with cleaning debris from previous redevelopments, hardscape and softscape improvements, soil replacement, and planting of endemic greeneries. The project will also involve paving pedestrian walkways and bike lanes, transforming a segment of the road into a commercial strip to spur economic activity in one of the most important and historic thoroughfares in the country.

Fr. Victorino Cueto, rector of the Baclaran Church located at the southern end of the road, welcomed the initiative and said it would benefit the devotees especially the more than 80,000 who flock the church every Wednesday.

“I am really happy about the plan and the vision,” exclaimed Patrick Pineda, president of a townhouse-owners association. He said there are many problems along the boulevard that needs to be solved such as the clearing of waterways and parking.

Architect Paulo Alcazaren, lead consultant of PGAA Creative Design, highlighted that among the economic and tourism benefits of revitalizing Roxas Boulevard include (a) an increase in property values along the improved Roxas Boulevard Park by 5 to 10 percent in two to five years and about 10 to 15 percent after three years (b) improved traffic and circulation in surrounding districts (c) more customers and tourists to the districts’ commercial establishments and (d) a new face of Metro Manila as the capital of the Philippines. He also cited Alicante Esplanade in Spain, Champs Élysées in France, Orchard Road in Singapore, and Pennsylvania Avenue in Washington D.C. as some of the best practices and inspiration for streetscape improvement. Alcazaren’s group was responsible for the increased pedestrian walkability along Ayala Avenue in Makati’s Central Business District, Iloilo River Esplanade in Iloilo City, and other numerous park projects in Southeast Asia including Singapore and Malaysia.

The representative from Max’s Restaurant, Ms. Edralin Estipona, was thankful for the said redevelopment plan as it is expected to increase activity in the area, which means more customers and more business for the restaurant. It was also viewed as a way to help preserve a piece of their history as the Baclaran branch found along Roxas Boulevard was the first Max’s Restaurant in the country.

In a separate email sent by Ms. Maryjo Feraren, Marketing Head of The Aristocrat, she said “In our 77 years of business, we have always celebrated Filipino culture through the food we serve and the values we espouse as a corporation. We are delighted to hear about the current project of the DOT and DPWH that aims to bring about a better Manila.”

The creation of a shopping street in the Roxas Boulevard Park aims to broaden the revenue impact of the place, as well as increase the value of property in the area. “We envision the current Roxas Boulevard Park service roads to be a commercial or shopping road. We want to convert the service roads as an events place and strip of night cafes. We are also thinking of creating something like that in Makati-Ayala CBD where owners of commercial establishments themselves have put together an organization just to help in the preparation and enforcement of rules because they are the ones affected,” DPWH Secretary Rogelio Singson said.

Both Secretaries Jimenez and Singson appealed to stakeholders in the private sector to support the project to maximize the business impact along the boulevard. There will also be a series of meetings and consultations with the local government units concerned to hammer down solutions to possible common problems in the area such as security, billboards, illegal and ambulant vendors. “The most successful tourist destinations in the country are the ones with highly participatory and collaborative local government and private sector,” Tourism Secretary Jimenez added.

“The Roxas Boulevard Redevelopment project is not the final solution to the problems in Manila. It aims to provide a clear opportunity for improvement and an impetus for further development by stakeholders, LGUs, and people involved. It is meant to restore the boulevard to the people it was built to serve. This is OUR boulevard,” Secretary Jimenez concluded.

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