Iloilo City has very high development potentials, stressed internationally-renown urban planner Felino “Jun” Palafox Jr.

And to take advantage of economic prospects, he said the city needs to update its Comprehensive Land Use Plan (CLUP) to complement the fast-rising development in the metropolis.

The City Government hired the services of Palafox and Associates to craft the 2009-2020 CLUP and zoning ordinance, revising the existing 1998-2010 CLUP to keep the city in pace with rapid urbanization and economic growth.

“Iloilo is a pacesetter and a great city,” Palafox said, referring to several first developments in Iloilo including the railway, golf course and department store that were established during the pre-war period.

“The initial buyers of real estate in Makati were Ilonggos. With a great development plan for the city, the illustrious citizens would come back here and more investors will come,” he added.

Palafox said the city’s potentials as center of education and learning, presence of ports and rich heritage and historical sites are attractions to possible investors.

“The problem is that we have the wrong types of development at the wrong place at a wrong time,” he said.

The urban planning firm identified the 21.3-kilometer coastline and 113-kilometer riverbank which are prime areas for development.

It is suggested that the waterfronts be converted into dining areas while the Iloilo River could be use for ferry service as alternative mode of transportation to decongest roads.

The stakeholders including the youth, academe, government agencies, non-government organizations, private and business sector and the church also shared their suggestions in updating the CLUP during the planning workshop and public consultations.

The City Government pushed for a strong public-private partnership in the planning process to effectively realize the vision of becoming a Premier City by 2015.

Palafox said public-private partnership is a new paradigm that will stimulate the situation considering the government cannot do it alone. He added that the city is ahead in terms of democratic participation among the stakeholders.

To attract investors, Palafox pushed for the improvement of basic or hard infrastructure to include roads, drainage system, flood control project, electricity, telephone lines, and streetlights; progressive infrastructure to include ports, schools, hotels, and hospitals; and soft infrastructure to include government policies that will make businesses easier.