How to make sure New Clark City won’t go the way of idle metropolises in Asia? Govt will be Clark’s first mover

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Here's how planners at the BCDA envision the New Clark City, the country's first green and smart city, to look like. IMAGE FROM BCDA WEBSITE

PUTRAJAYA, Malaysia – The Oxford Business Group (OBG) has dubbed the New Clark City in Central Luzon as an ambitious land development of the Philippine government — converting a 9,450-hectare empty land to a new well-planned urban area.

With the state-owned Bases Conversion and Development Authority (BCDA) taking the lead to develop the New Clark City, it is also set to be a new business district in the country.

ut the challenge is how to bring investors in an area, which is about 120 kilometers away from Manila. There is no available railway system connecting Clark and the National Capital Region (NCR) yet, while public transportation linking the two areas is limited to buses.

OBG’s report in 2015 noted that similar big ideas in Asia “have gone nowhere” since investors are typically reluctant to move into an empty locale.

The government’s solution — it will be the first mover in the New Clark City.

The BCDA forged a partnership last year with Malaysian investment holding firm, MTD Capital Berhad, to build a PHP121.8-billion National Government Administrative Center (NGAC).

The 220-hectare NGAC will have satellite government offices and major administrative offices of executive departments and agencies, including an extension office of Malacañang Palace, as well as government housing.

It is also being eyed to host embassies, public schools, international schools, government hospital, public library, sports facilities, and a central communications and security command center.

RIGHT MOVE TO FIRST MOVE

AlloyMTD Group Acting Chief Executive Officer Tee Kim Siew said in an interview here that it is a good decision for the Philippine government to be the first mover in New Clark City.

“[The Philippine] government is doing the right thing, because if you bring the government departments there, you have to populate the area. Once you [have] the population, there’s a demand for commercial, demand for office space, hotel, tourism, things like that,” Tee said.

AlloyMTD is the infrastructure arm of MTD Capital.

Its local office, MTD Philippines, Inc., has revealed that the first phase of the NGAC will be put up in two parts.

MTD Philippines President Patrick Nicholas David said Phase 1-A will involve a PHP13.7-billion development, that includes a stadium, aquatic center, and two athletic dormitories that will be used for the 30th Southeast Asian Games next year hosted by the Philippines.

A government integrated operations office building and two government housing will also rise in the 40-hectare Phase 1-A of the NGAC.

The Phase 1-A is expected to be delivered by October 2019.

On the other hand, more government offices will be built in the 20-hectare Phase 1-B development of NGAC, which is targeted to be finished by December 2021.

MINI-PUTRAJAYA

MTD Capital will pattern the NGAC in Clark to the development of the government center in Putrajaya in Malaysia.
“In Malaysia, it took 20 years to move everybody [to Putrajaya]. Still, there are offices in the city,” David said.

But the Putrajaya development is much larger than the NGAC as it is a project built on more than 4,000 hectares land area, almost half of the entire New Clark City.

David pointed out that major traffic generators are government offices, schools, malls, and private offices.
Transferring government offices outside Metro Manila, like Malaysia’s move to transfer the government seat from Kuala Lumpur to Putrajaya, is also a way to decongest NCR.

“I think it’s a smart move for the government to do it in phases. You don’t want to paralyze Metro Manila. It’s like a back-up center for the entire country. So, slowly, gradually. That’s why our vision — you just don’t build government offices and residentials. We build the community around them, put a park with them, school, religious places. Then later on, slowly but surely, places of interest,” he added.

The New Clark City is part of the PHP8-trillion Build, Build, Build infrastructure program of the Duterte administration.