Plant-inspired buildings to rise on Victoria Plaza

Victoria Plaza Mall site. Photo courtesy of Thea S. Padua

DAVAO CITY (MindaNews/27 March) – A mix of “iconic” medium- and high-rise buildings inspired by some exotic and endemic plants of Mindanao will rise within the 9.6-hectare property of the Victoria Plaza mall complex, an official of a Hong Kong-based design company said.

Walter V. Melicor, chief financial officer of the Elements Habitare, told reporters in an interview during the formal takeover ceremony Wednesday held inside Victoria Plaza’s Cinema 5, which currently houses the Harvest House City Church, that the development would have five phases.

The Lim family, which operates the homegrown New City Commercial Corporation (NCCC), took over the mall management on Wednesday after announcing its acquisition on March 12, at an undisclosed amount.

Melicor said the first two phases would have a five-star hotel, a condominium and serviced apartments; a twin-tower in phase 3; NCCC headquarters in phase 4; and a four-story mall in phase 5.

The designs of the most iconic components of the 9.6-ha development, such as the twin-tower, NCCC corporate building and mall took inspiration from the exotic plants of Mindanao, he said.

He added the design of the twin tower would be inspired by the pitcher plant, a carnivorous plant found in Mt. Hamiguitan in Davao Oriental province and other forests of Mindanao, the corporate building by the exotic mangosteen fruit, and the mall by the petals of the waling-waling plant endemic to the island.

Melicor’s team designed some of the world’s iconic buildings, among them Marina Bay Sands of Singapore, Galaxy Macau, a casino resort in Macau, and Okada Manila, a luxury hotel casino in the Philippines.

Melicor said the Lim family would decide if it wants to retain the old structure of the mall, but added the current conceptual design might require a total demolition of the old structure to give way to a new one.

He said the current structure might not support the proposed expansion of the mall.

“We are moving forward to the future. The sentimentality will always be there, in the place but not in the building. I think the building — we have to enhance and make it iconic building at par with the world,” he said.

But NCCC president Sharlene A. Lim assured the old mall building would be retained but it would have a facelift.

She said the company plans to proceed with a phase-by-phase development of the old Victoria Plaza Mall as it did for its NCCC Mall in Maa before a massive fire destroyed it on December 23, 2017. The fire incident killed the mall’s key custodian and 37 call center agents of Survey Sampling International.

Lim added the company plans to develop the dilapidated cinemas into a family entertainment center, where the restaurants located at the periphery of the mall’s parking space will be relocated.

The mall tenants, including ukay-ukay vedors, would be provided a space, she said.

She said NCCC Department Store and Supermarket would eventually take over the department store and supermarket of the Victoria Plaza.

She said the Victoria Plaza has over 300 tenants at present.

Inaugurated on March 16, 1993,  the Davao Sunrise Investment & Development Corporation of the Limso family previously managed the Victoria Plaza, a premier mall of the Dabawenyos in the 1990’s.

On the start of the development, Lim added her family plans to “get this running sooner.”

She said NCCC welcomes players to invest in the mixed-use development.

“A lot of people are interested in coming in and sort of doing this vision to life. Starting today, we can start talking to people about it openly kasi nga before medyo hush-hush kami,” she said. (Antonio L. Colina IV/MindaNews)