Cebu: Nowhere to expand but up


Cebu has a limited buildable space, only eight percent (8%) of its total land area is flat and this is spread along the coastline of an elongated island. You only have two options, go north or south.

In the 60’s, southward development started in San Nicolas Mambaling area. Subdivisions like Ma. Gochan with its fruity streets Avocado, Bayabas, Caimito, etc. Then Labangon, Punta Princesa and Tisa became residential areas with corn and peanut fields giving way to housing structures.

The 70’s saw expansion reaching the barangays of Pardo in the South and Mabolo in the north. During this time, the city of government of Cebu realized the scarce land resource and to address the need requirement by a rapidly growing city like Cebu, planning started for the North Reclamation project which eventually became the home of SM’s first mall outside Metro Manila

During the 80’s, expansion continued filling every available space from Guadalupe to Pardo in the South and and in the north, Lito Osmena started to move farther north the haven of the ultra-rich, Maria Luisa Subdivision. Yes, Banilad at that time was considered very far from the city. I’m not that old yet but I still remember buying Japanese corn in what would become  Gaisano Country Mall.

The 90’s saw an unprecedented growth in Cebu. Dubbed “Ceboom”, the tandem of governor Lito Osmena and Mayor Tom Osmena opened Cebu to opportunities never seen before. Manila developers went on crazy shopping for space. Ayala cornered the provincial lot utilized as golf course while SM secured the greatest chunk in the new reclamation. The residential expansion now extends from Talisay city to Mandaue city. The northward expansion shifted westward to Mactan island after plans for a 2nd bridge floated.

To continue the legacy of his father, Tom Osmena proposed the South Reclamation project even before the North was completely sold-out. Also called the age of malling, Cebu saw three giant malls opening within an 18-month period. Gaisano Country Mall broke ground late but was the first to open followed by SM then by ACC. How these stores almost killed the business in Colon will be a good separate story

Condominiums started out in Cebu not as housing solution but as status symbol for the rich. This was however short-lived with the onset of the Asian Crisis in 1997-98. The slowdown in real estate activities continued into the new millennium.

Ceboom part 2 started around 2006 and growth went exponential since then. Two things happened, residential properties now pushed farther north in Liloan and down south in Naga city., and traffic has become an ever worsening occurrence.

Traffic and scarcity of land  indicate one thing , there’s nowhere to go but up. If you buy a house in Liloan for example with a monthly amortization of 15,000 pesos , you would need more or less the same amount monthly for you and your family to commute to the city. Not to mention the amount of time you need to bear in daily traffic.

Traffic will get worse, believe me. With just one major road going north and one going south, daily snarl will be as predictable as the sunrise. We can always build a new highway but where? Slice it in the mountains or erect a viaduct above the sea?

Cebu’s topography is telling us, its time to buy a condo in the city.

Nowhere to go but up, a skyscraper city in the making.



photo credit to :romanslerz/skyscrapercity




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