the changing city

The Manila Standard reports (via Yehey News) on Quezon City's plans for building the biggest business district in Metro Manila.

(QC Mayor Sonny Belmonte) said the area would be organized into five districts: The Triangle Exchange, The Residences at Veterans, The Downtown Hub, The Emporium and The Commons.*

The 54.3-hectare Triangle Exchange will be a high-traffic commercial and residential district and the most active area of the Triangle Park.

The 40-hectare Residences at Veterans will be a mixed-use community housing condominiums and row houses, while The 54-hectare Downtown Hub will be a mixed-use, medium-density district with institutional services and facilities integrated with commercial and residential development.

The 37.9-hectare Emporium will be another mixed-use, medium-density district focused on call centers and commercial and residential developments.

The 19.8-hectare The Commons will have residential developments and recreation and entertainment establishments.
That seems to total to 152 hectares or 1.52 sq. kilometers although the press release claims 250 hectares which is just par with the 2.54 km2 that is Fort Boni. (Although the FB number is the total area for development, not specifically the CBD.)

It will still be dwarfed by the future development in Canlubang, but we could use a stronger urban center in the north of Cubao.

Elements I hope the comprehensive plan will include:
  1. Mixed income housing
  2. Walkable streets
  3. Internal transportation network
  4. Leveraging MRT (and if ever, future LRT-7) stations
  5. Public parks and open spaces (with public art!)
  6. Civic centers and civic buildings
I wonder who will get the commission? I'm sure our local architects will complain if it goes to a foreign planning firm.

Image credit: Screenshot of Google Earth

*-UDC comment: What generically boring names.

P.S. - We never did get to run with the bulls.


Anonymous said...

mrt and lrt will be too expensive. diesel trains or semi-rapid transport like tranvia would far be cheaper.

Urbano dela Cruz said...

do you mean Bus Rapid Transit?

I didn't mean they should build light rail in the CBD to be! I meant they should leverage the existing MRT stations, and the future LRT-7 stations.

Senor Enrique said...

Wow! Some development plan for the city.

Urbano dela Cruz said...

snr. enrique,

it is, isn't it? and if we can organize and get in early enough in the planning process, maybe we can help shape the development.

make sure it is people friendly and adds to the livability of the city.

peterangliongto said...

Sounds very fanciful...will reserve judgment till the actual plan comes out! Then see who is interested. Who owns these lands anyway, a key chunk is owned by Lucio Tan and far as I know Eton Properties the vehicle used to develop this is master planing their 10 hectares. I wonder if their coordinating at all with the City. QC is not the easiest place to get things done.

In the meantime they better get rid of those squatters so they don't hassle more people.

Urbano dela Cruz said...


as far as I know, most of the land should still be owned by the city and the national government. -with the notable exception of the LRT's north triangle depot -which has now been developed into Trinoma.

Where exactly are Tan's ten hectares located?

as to the squatters, they could be stakeholders in this whole process. rather than resorting to full relocation. maybe we should consider an inclusionary development model - we can set aside portions of the plan for mixed-income (middle income and subsidized) housing.

messy, but it could be a better approach than the failed model of relocating squatters.

peterangliongto said...

Ah the avaricious Mr. Tan own 10 hectares (or thereabouts) from the corner of Quezon Ave and EDSA all the way to the printing press. It's one reason I wondered how much of the rest area is still in GRP hands.

If they intend to develop the area for a CBD then that would mean they expect expensive Land Values eventually. At 10,000 families (as per the last count I heard not sure), that's a lot of land they would need to allocate should they not want to rellocate these people. If they give 20 sq.m. per family (present size of houses in relocation sites) and built 4 story walkups in a 12 sq.m. main and 8sq.m. loft configuration (more efficient), assuming an 85% efficiency resulting in unconsolidated GFA of 14 sq.m. per unit, then maxed out footprint of 70% of land , you'd get about 2000 families per hectar, so you'd need a total of 5 hectares. Price the land free and building cost of less than 10,000 per sq.m., these could be sold to these squatters for the socialize rate of 300,000 per unit or less than 1700 per month for 25years.

Now the reason I think this is grossly unfair is that these guys would then turn around and sell these very same subsidized units or rent them out at market rates (easily 3000 per month at this location per unit). Making them instant money! Aside from this it reinforces the notion to the other 3.9million squatters that they were better of squatting to begin with pala! haha. From a housing economics point of view this is very market distorting and ultimately we can't really afford it. I submit that since they need to follow the Lina law they should do so at the barest minimum subsidy since the squatters have already previously enjoyed a lot of economic benefits from the landowners defacto subsidy from all their years of staying there.

Urbano dela Cruz said...


ah, so Mr. Tan practically has the whole EDSA frontage right next to the MRT Quezon Ave. Station. (his development, interestingly enough, will be neighbors with his nemesis, the BIR).

I guess that was part of the Napocor fire sale. (don't look now, but NHA, which owns most of the target lands, seems to be balking at being left out of the planning)

As far as housing strategies for the existing informal dwellers, I agree with you that it would be (and has proven to be) very inneficient to simply award them with houses and units -and a track to homeownership.

I think that's one of the faulty assumptions we have when tackling the housing shortage -that the immediate track is homeownership.

The middle class doesn't enjoy that kind of benefit. Most rent for years before they can build up the capital to buy housing.

My take is, the primary avenue should be to provide rental subsidies plus affordable rental units mixed in with middle class market rate housing.

Thanks for working out the numbers -and yes, five acres is a lot of land -BUT ONLY IF YOU CONCEPTUALIZE IT IN A SINGLE LOCATION.

Take a hectare or 500m2 from each of the developments, and it doesn't look to daunting.

Mix it in vertically (like I said, mixed income development) and it becomes even more manageable.

the four-story walk-up limit is really based on ability to maintain the building (i.e. -can't maintain an elevator plus water distribution systems) in vertical low cost housing.

you lose that problem if you create mixed income developments. so you can build higher (even up to 10) and at the same time, avoid the concentration of poverty that creates the same problems -be it vertical or horizontal development.

Of course, the two big obstacles are:

1) our built in prejudice against mixing in with the "poor"

2) the politics of getting the existing dwellers to accept that they won't get the instant jackpot

so possible approaches:

1) - other cities have demonstrated success with inclusionary zoning and mixed income development. its a tough sell, but done right, it can be sold.

(if you provide incentives for middle market buyers/renters -like say preference for teachers who work in QC and in nearby schools or for government workers, you may get a good mix going)

2) you can provide two options for the existing 10,000 families:

-relocate to a home ownership package

-take a rental package somewhere in the development (this can be subsidized (via voucher), rent-to-own, or straight rent depending on the ability to pay)

the rent-to-own setup allows for greater control, in that if they stop paying rent, then they stop the track to homeownership.

the rent subsidy via voucher means they have to claim the vouchers regularly (and it should be, on site) but that the subsidy remains separate from the unit.

Of course this requires more work and more institution buildings -but it could be worth the try (the recourse is our existing -and failed model.)

peterangliongto said...

hehe my model is getting rid of the Lina law and criminalizing squatting again to provide a deterent and remove market distorting inefficiencies. of course that would be in my version of a perfect and just world. since we need to work with the present law, then i think the practical limits for including a small piece of subsidized home project in larger projects (aside from the ones you mentioned and assuming you can get your old bosses in Ayala or some other big developer to actually agree to this!!! haha such fun) would be the implicit drag on earnings of the project by the subsidy. Assuming a certain ratio had to be covered (20% as per current law but who's counting hehe), the weighted capital will limit the players and project types for the area. And thats assuming the gov't will agree to subsidy land prices for this rule (may be a heroic assumption under COA rules and more importantly CYA beaurocratic thinking!)

Aside from the difficulty in assessing Condo dues that may result from a higher maintenance cost for mid to high rise vs. walkups, the actual capital cost or direct construction cost will literally double if not triple making the subsidy even higher. theoretically if the GOP was to subsidize the land to nothing then the accomodated cost of a walkup would at least not require another subsidy credit to the building and at least the economics would work to find capital whether for sale or rent to do the project. If the homes were above walkup then we'd need to put in a few things which are quite expensive on a capital basis: the elevator you mentioned, fire sprinklers and a heavier foundation. It would be a bigger challenge to balance the return ratio for this. but hey if the government is willing to provide a bigger subsidy for a mid rise sure why not.

The reason I'd push for selling homes to renting is the return would actually be better for a developer due to the nature of our capital here (short payback prefered over better npv for long term projs) hence easier to do!essentially pagibig is rent to own as you don't need equity till 750000 much higher than socialized projects and the developer actually is the homeowner on record for at least two years to ensure Pagibig will have no collection problems. It may just be easier to attract private sector to such programs.

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