Buoyant and bright outlook for Parañaque
Parañaque City will continue to soar economically and will remain as one of the top cities in the country for years to come owing to the huge developments in the Entertainment City ― the strip of casinos, world-class hotels, shopping and leisure destinations facing Manila Bay.
Mayor Edwin L. Olivarez is pinning his confidence and buoyancy on a brighter future primarily on the continued influx of foreign and local investors that have been putting up businesses in various parts of the city, especially in the Entertainment City.
Olivarez said the entry of resorts, casino operators and other locators have increased the city’s annual income tremendously to P5 billion last year, compared to the P2 billion collection of the previous administration.
He recalled that in 2013, the city government had been plagued by a huge budget deficit. When he took over as mayor, he reviewed the system and implemented a massive information drive on the payment of taxes.
The effort paid off when the city was adjudged as “2014 Most Economically Dynamic City” by the National Competitiveness Council in partnership with the United States Agency for International Development, the Department of Trade and Industry, and the National Economic Development Authority.
“The mushrooming casino resort operations in the city have contributed the biggest chunk to the local government’s revenue collection for the past three years,” the mayor admitted.
Under Olivarez’s leadership, Parañaque reached greater heights with record numbers of investors and businesses coming into the city, with the latest count already at over 20,000, which combined have an estimated annual gross sales of over P30 billion.
Entertainment City, the Las Vegas-style casino and tourism complex conceived by the Philippine Amusement and Gaming Corp. (Pagcor), has the potential to become the next major central business district in Metro Manila, replicating the success of Bonifacio Global City, where demand for real estate properties has gone up significantly, according to city officials.
In October 2008, the city government approved Pagcor’s plan to build its P25-billion Entertainment City when the City Council ceremonially signed a resolution that declared a 150-hectare property along Roxas Boulevard and Costal Road as a Philippine Economic Zone Authority (PEZA) zone.
City Administrator Ding Soriano said Entertainment City, located on 100 hectares of reclaimed land along Manila Bay, is not only poised to become the country’s premier gaming destination, but is also seen to lead the next wave of growth in the metropolis.
Pagcor issued licenses for four proponents to operate integrated casino-entertainment resorts in the area. Bloomberry Resorts Corp. was the first to put up the Solaire Resort and Casino, followed by City of Dreams Manila of Macau-based casino giant Melco Crown Entertainment Ltd and Belle Corp.
Belle Corp., a company majority-owned by the family of mall and banking tycoon Henry Sy, paid Parañaque P135.9 million in real property taxes as an individual taxpayer in 2015.
The $1.3-billion project has six hotel towers, including the 260-room Crown Towers hotel, 321-room Nobu Hotel Manila, a Hyatt Hotel, as well as numerous restaurants, bars, gaming facilities, a multi-level car park, the DreamPlay indoor amusement park, and approximately two hectares of restaurant and retail space.
Soriano said the City of Dreams Manila, which he described as “an electrifying, innovative and diverse entertainment destination,” played a major role in the development of the city.
Solaire was the first to open in Entertainment City – seen as the country’s answer to Macau ― followed by City of Dreams and Okada Manila, which was granted a Pagcor license in August 2008 to establish and operate a casino at the Entertainment City with a total investment of $2.4 billion.
Soriano said the newly-opened Okada Manila will add P100 million to the city’s coffers coming from real property taxes, business taxes, clearances like health and police, and other miscellaneous revenue payments.
The integrated casino resort boasts of being a major landmark in Philippine tourism, especially with the addition of its $30-million light-and-water fountain that rivals two of the most popular fountains in the world.
Okada Manila has gaming floors that can accommodate up to 500 tables and 3,000 slot machines, a premium shopping promenade, and an impressive night club and indoor beach club.
Completing the four components of Entertainment City is another integrated resort casino project by Alliance Global Group Inc. of Andrew Tan and Genting Hong Kong Ltd., to be called Resorts World Bayshore.
Not to be outdone, Ayala Land Inc. will develop a 500,000 square meter shopping mall, bigger than the 406,000 square meter Mall of Asia and hotel complex project.
A short drive away from Makati City and the Ninoy Aquino International Airport, Entertainment City’s strategic location is another prime attraction. The extension of the existing LRT Line 1 from Baclaran to Bacoor, Cavite and the construction of the elevated expressway linking the South Luzon Expressway to NAIA Terminals 1, 2 and 3 are also expected to boost commercial activity in the area.
At full development, Entertainment City is expected to deliver up to $10 billion annually in gaming revenues, as well as generate over 400,000 direct and indirect jobs. It is seen to attract at least a million tourists annually and capture 10 percent of the global gaming market.
Soriano, the city administrator, said Parañaque expects a threshold annual income of P2 billion when all integrated resorts have been completed in the Entertainment City along the stretch of Manila Bay.
Soriano said the hotel and casinos will not only generate income for the city and tourism revenues, but will likewise generate jobs for city residents, as the law stipulates that they comprise as least 40 percent of the workforce of new establishments.
Since the multi-billion hotels and world-class casino projects will employ around 250,000 people, that means at least 100,000 jobs for city residents, he explained.
The Rise of ‘Bay City’
To sustain this growth momentum, the city is investing P5 billion in infrastructure over the next four years to complement the national government’s huge capital outlay.
City officials also expressed optimism that Parañaque will attract more investments in 2017 following a recent sisterhood agreement with the city of Haeundae, South Korea and the City of Carson, California, USA, whose council members visited the city last week.
This developed as Olivarez announced the new brand name of Parañaque which from now on will be called the “Bay City” with the slogan “Life Never Stops at the Bay City.”
“Bay City” was born out of the city government’s desire to seek and create an identity that will be unique to Parañaque, while also retaining the color, character and values of a true Parañaqueno.
Meanwhile, the city received three awards July this year as among local government units in Metro Manila conferred with the Seal of Child-friendly Local Governance award by the Regional Committee for the Welfare of Children in the annual event spearheaded by the Department of Social Welfare and Development and the Department of Interior and Local Government.
Last year, Parañaque was also conferred by the council for the Welfare of Children for the LGU’s “commitment in promoting child rights to survival, development, protection and participation.”
Two awards was also received from the Metro Manila Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Council and the Office of the Civil Defense–National Capital Region with Gawad Kalasag 2017 NCR for placing third Best Government Emergency Management Service in NCR and also third place in Best Disaster Management Council (Highly Urbanized City Category).