Bases Conversion Development Authority ("BCDA") is the government body that is in charge of transforming former military bases into master-planned global cities and self-sustaining communities that boost national economic growth. So we were a little more than thrilled when its President and CEO, Vivencio B. Dizon, granted us an interview early this month (March 6, 2017) to talk about BCDA's vision for Fort Bonifacio in the next few years.
Mr. Dizon expounded on the Duterte administration's vision for Fort Bonifacio, foremost of which was to make it a great place for all, not just high income earners, to work and live in, in short, to make it a more "equitable" development*. The Bonifacio Global City ("BGC") portion of this vision will be executed through Fort Bonifacio Development Corporation ("FBDC"), which is the corporation tasked to manage Bonifacio Global City, and is owned jointly by BCDA, Ayala Land, Inc. and Evergreen Holdings, Inc. He mentioned three specific areas at which BCDA would focus its attention.
(i) Housing for Young Professionals
Mr. Dizon noted that many young people who work in BGC had to endure long commuting to come to work everyday. BCDA will build and manage a dormitory building in North Bonifacio that will serve people working in BGC, where land price normally would make even dormitory type accommodation unaffordable to most people working here. Not only will this facility improve the quality of life of the workers, it will improve their productivity at work and also reduce traffic congestion.
While details such as timing and rates are not available, we were very excited to hear that news, as we share Mr. Dizon's sentiment about the lack of affordable housing for young professionals, the main workforce in BGC. See our recent article on this subject.
(ii) Easing Traffic Problems
More transport infrastructure. One transport infrastructure badly needed in BGC is additional parking facility for cars coming into BGC. At the same time, BGC needs to be decongested. The lease of Karport building, located on 32nd Street near EDSA, will expire in two years. There is a plan to replace it with a multi-storey parking building, so that commuters can park their car there and ideally walk to their office in BGC, or take a short ride. If the parking building could be linked to the central district of BGC by walkways, which, we were told a while ago, was in the original master plan of BGC, that would be best for easing traffic within BGC.
The proposed Bus Rapid Transit ("BRT") system that will link Fort Bonifacio to Ninoy Aquino International Airport, as well as run through central BGC, will go ahead. To make that happen, road widening of Lawton Avenue will also be done. Target completion: 2019-2020.
Photo: the above photo of the BRT scheme was provided at an event covered by our article published in August 2015
There is also a plan to construct a road from Consular Road (in front of Essensa) all the way to Pasong Tamo Extension.
The project to build South Luna ramp to access Fort Bonifacio from C5 will be pursued with renewed vigor. The South Luna Ramp will consist of a two (2) lane onramp and a two (2) lane off-ramp connecting from the Circumferential Road-5 (C-5) and McKinley Parkway to serve as an ingress/egress to/from Bonifacio Global City through C-5 Road.
The photo above is taken from a link on BCDA's website
Promote cycling. Once the new public transport infrastructures are in place, BCDA intends to put in dedicated bicycle lanes in Fort Bonifacio, so as to promote cycling as a means to commute as well as a component of a healthy lifestyle.
Pedestrian facilities. BGC already takes the crown for being the most pedestrian friendly area in Metro Manila, but Mr. Dizon said that more could be done. He mentioned that a pedestrian footbridge or path might be built to connect BGC to Guadalupe.
(iii) More open or green space
People from all walks of life regardless of income level can benefit from more open space. They can exercise, relax or socialize, which all contribute to their well-being. Unfortunately, in unplanned and not properly managed townships, open space is often sacrificed for commercial or residential development.
Apart from the recently opened BGC Greenway, Mr. Dizon said that BCDA will reserve a substantial portion of a 5,000 square feet lot in North Bonifacio for open space.
No Walk in the Park
We were very thrilled to hear about all these projects that will ease many of the developmental pains of Fort Bonifacio. He acknowledged that delivering these projects would not be a walk in the park, as many people might fear the loss of certain advantages that they enjoy now and would object to the projects. However, he is inspired by a book that he recently read: Streetfight: Handbook for an Urban Revolution by Janette Sadik-Khan, which told the story of how New York city was transformed to a better place after certain pedestrian friendly facilities were put in place despite strong opposition from some stakeholders. (For a summary of Ms Janette Sadik-Khan's achievement under New York mayor Michael Bloomberg, read this article.)
We found Mr. Dizon to be very passionate about delivering the goals of BCDA and extremely approachable. We are really looking forward to the completion of the many projects that he set out to accomplish.
* note: "equitable" is said to mean that everyone is given the appropriate help to succeed, whereas "equality" means everyone is treated the same