Davao architect pushes conversion of fire-hit coastal area into promenade

DAVAO CITY (MindaNews / 14 Aug) – An architect pushing for sustainable construction has suggested that the fire-hit area of Isla Verde in this city be converted to a promenade similar to the ones in Iloilo and Dumaguete.

In a phone interview, Architect Mike Guerrero said the city government could give the maintenance of the coastline residential area to the residents of Isla Verde instead of converting the property into a mixed-use commercial-residential development.

“Every major city that has a waterfront should consider this a premium space,” Guerrero said.

The architect said Dumaguete City converted its coastline residential areas into a promenade while Iloilo converted its own seaside villages into a promenade.

“Unfortunately, in Davao, the frontage is full of settlers,” he said.

He said the development of a medium rise residential area at Isla Verde and Davao City’s other coastlines could not only become a poverty alleviation solution but also become a thriving industry.

He added that doing this would be more “legal” since it would not require a reclassification of an area such as Isla Verde, which was declared by former president Joseph Estrada as a human settlement during his term.

“What you do is compress them into a medium rise property, create a park, and make them maintain the park,” Guerrero suggested. “This needs a strong political will.”

The architect said this was better than the traditional method of relocating informal settlers into a government-owned lot far from their sources of livelihood.

“It’s a win-win solution,” he said. “Make a project along the coastlines and let them maintain it.”

Guerrero said that the Smallville property in Iloilo was a “hot spot” for commercial activities, where people could jog and stroll.

“The nice thing about it was it wasn’t done in one term. The succeeding mayors committed to developing one strip each of a long coastline,” he said.

Coastlines, Guerrero said, are beautiful open spaces for cities, and he stressed that Davao should have its own.

The suggestion came in the midst of Mayor Rodrigo R. Duterte’s announcement Tuesday night that he was set to meet with a Malaysian company that offered to redevelop Isla Verde into a mixed-use development.

Duterte said he would go to Malaysia after the Kadayawan Festival to meet with the officials of Lima-lima Network, which proposed the project.

SM Anand, president of Lima-lima, said in a letter dated May 7 that it was very interested in converting the area into an Islamic commercial and halal hub, and even relocate the settlers.
Duterte said, however, that he would have to approach President Benigno Aquino III to revise Estrada’s decree in 1999.

A total of 8 out of 12 hectares from Isla Verde burned down in April 4 this year and affected at least 3,500 families.