MANILA — City of Manila Mayor Joseph Estrada continued his bid to transform this Philippine capital’s landscape, inaugurating Tuesday (Oct. 14) newly renovated landmark Lacson underpass in Quiapo district.
Aside from facilitating pedestrian movement in Quiapo, one of Manila’s trade centers, the underpass’ renovation and re-opening aims to better promote commerce by re-introducing there shops and stalls in a modern-day mall-type setting.
“Lacson Underpass is the country’s very first pedestrian underpass but neglect during previous administrations led to its deterioration although conditions here improved already,” Estrada pointed out during the underpass’ re-opening.
The air conditioned facility – now named Victory Lacson Underpass – is no longer the dark enclave it used to be as light already floods this area.
There are also public comfort rooms for men and women.
Security guards likewise man the underpass’ formerly open entrances which are already fitted with glass doors to protect the area from the elements.
“I know those who previously used the underpass will be surprised at such changes – what was once dark, dirty and which people feared entering is already bright, clean and safer,” Estrada said.
The old Lacson Underpass also featured various shops and stalls but the area then wasn’t as lighted as it is at present.
Manila city government said it partnered with private developer Whitescope Property and Development Corporation to renovate the underpass and bring this into use again.
Whitescope leasing and marketing chief Richie Mangio said the company commenced renovating the underpass in July this year after winning the bidding for this project’s development and management.
“We’re leasing the property for 25 years,” she said on the inauguration’s side.
She declined to provide further details about the lease but said the project will generate revenues for Manila city government from Whitescope’s monthly rent as well as business permits and other fees of the underpass’ 222 tenants.
A handful of such tenants already commenced operating on the day the underpass re-opened.
Initial data from Manila city government show the underpass will have some 26 regular stalls of 10 sq.m. to 20 sq.m. each, 105 micro-retail or ‘tiangge’ stalls, 36 kiosks of around four sq.m. each, four ATM machines and 19 food cars.
All available commercial spaces in the underpass are already taken, Mangio noted.
The area is open to the public daily from 8 a.m. to 8 p.m., she also said.
Estrada re-assured his administration’s continuing efforts to further undertake projects aimed at helping restore Manila’s old glory.
“I, our hard-working Vice-Mayor Isko Moreno, the city council and all our city officials will continue to work night and day to change the face of Manila,” he said.
He said by pursuing such bid, he hopes to honor the leadership Manila’s former mayors Arsenio Lacson and Antonio Villegas exemplified during their incumbency.
Manila city government made the underpass’ initial construction plans during Lacson’s time, Estrada recalled.
The underpass’ construction was completed during the time of Lacson’s successor Villegas, continued Estrada,
“Lacson Underpass was already air conditioned when this opened in the 1960s,” Estrada said. “This shows the kind of visionary leadership we had in mayors Lacson and Villegas. Even then, they already wanted our city to be world-class. This is the kind of leadership I admire and hope to honor by restoring Manila’s former glory in the years ofmy own administration.”