Emilio Borella: Building A Platform To Help Bogota Residents Rebuild Their City

Real-estate developer and philanthropist on producing a collective vision for the city of Bogota with the My Ideal City project.

The My Ideal City project’s only sponsor is the international real estate development company BD Promotores Colombia based in Spain with a Colombian presence and over 20 years of experience in this field. Emilio Borella is philanthropist and the director of the company. He leads the BD Bacatá project, a building that has become a symbol of My Ideal City and also the joining force of all Colombians as a pillar of national pride and world recognition. PSFK.com spoke to Emilio about imagining a collective vision for the city of Bogota.

What drew you to this project?

The opportunity to provide citizens with a platform where they may express their ideas, with the support of experts in all matters of their interest or concern. New technologies seem to be the way to provide a guiding thread for communication among all agents living in and developing a city, residents, businesses, public entities, etc.

Which would you think is the main goal behind the financing of this project?

We have four specific goals:

1. ECONOMIC: Give VIABILITY to a project by means of many NON-INSTITUTIONAL investors taking part in the business and ownership of a mix-use complex in an iconic building in Bogotá as a paradigm of large urban developments on a worldwide level. Can you imagine, in retrospective, the power of being a partner/owner of the Rockefeller Center in New York?

2. SOCIAL: Development of private investment projects like ours help improve the RESIDENTS’ QUALITY OF LIFE through the creation of jobs and better income conditions in an area of great improvement potential.

3. POLITICAL: Private investment and projects such as ours REINFORCE THE BET OF PUBLIC INSTITUTIONS on city development. The “Downtown Revival Plan” and the new mayor’s strategic plan insist on the construction of buildings and infrastructure as a driver for downtown development and the starting point for the new POT (Spanish acronym for Land Zoning Plan).

4. ARCHITECTURE & LANDSCAPING: Road, architectural and landscaping improvements made through infrastructure revival INCREASE CITIZENS’ WELFARE AND COMFORT and at the same time lead the city into the future. The solid private investment boom in the area, like our project or housing or office unit projects in neighboring locations, goes alongside institutional projects, Tadeo University with its campus as an example, or public investment in road, architectural and landscaping infrastructure, such as the Third Millennium Park or the Transmilenio hub and the related improvements on Carreras 7 and 10, or the pedestrianization of Carrera 7.

Why is this project important for the people in Bogota?

It is important for the city’s downtown reclamation and revival for all citizens and visitors of Bogota, in many ways such as the following:

– Reinforcing the university epicenter, the largest university cluster in the country with 35 universities (Andes, Externado, Tadeo, Rosario, Salle, etc.) and their associated services.

– Reinforcing the cultural epicenter: Gold Museum, Botero Museum, Jorge Eliécer Gaitán Theater, the Cathedral, great 20-century buildings (Avianca, Ministry of Interior, Comptroller General’s office, etc.), the Candelaria historical center (as important as the walled Cartagena de Indias downtown area), etc.

– Reinforcing the political and judicial epicenter: Palace of Nariño, Government, City Hall, Ministries, Tax Administration, courts, etc.

– Private institutional epicenter: Banco de la Republica, Banco Agrario, El Tiempo, BANCOLOMBIA, Banco de Bogota.

– Business epicenter: San Victorino, Carrera 7 for pedestrians only, La Candelaria, etc.

How is daily urban life going to improve in the city?

The hybrid between public investment with the “Downtown Revival Plan” and private investment with BD Bacatá, the Bicentennial Tower, Block 5 or the Tadeo University campus, to mention some examples, is already improving it, and this is reflected in the following:

– Roads: Road infrastructure (streets, sidewalks, Transmilenio lanes) improvement, and implementation of the SITP (Spanish acronym for Public Transportation Integrated System), all resulting in better public transportation and better access in and out of the city’s downtown.

– Sanitation, Security and Control: More hours and capacity of the waste collection system, more traffic lights, better parking garages, expansion of metropolitan police Immediate Attention Centers (CAIs for their Spanish acronym) with more human and technical security resources (surveillance video cameras, for example), pedestrianization of two major downtown avenues such as Jiménez Avenue and Carrera 7, with an increase of security systems and attention services, among others.

– Tourism and leisure: More cultural options with the opening of movie theaters, playhouses and the expansion of museums, more retail offer, more and better hotel offer (restoration and lodging) with hotel and restaurant openings or renovations.

How do you see think crowd-planned projects can influence the development of cities in the future?

Globalization understood as extending access to information through New Information and Communication Technologies, focusing on real-time access, from any device and from any location, to press, information and banking transactions, work on the cloud between people in different countries and with different working hours, just to mention some examples, has made it possible to put citizens as the engine for decision making related to any activity.

Today citizens have their opinion and massively vote without counting on any type of public or private institution. This possibility of real-time communication, without the need to be called, in which one’s opinion is taken into account and may have consequences in political vote, has a colossal strength before public institutions.

Every day, fact by fact, the crowd’s opinion and activities associated to the “crowd” notion (opinion and activity in social networks) are more important in the cultural, social, political and economic spheres of countries. Development of city models is already a part of the citizens’ opinion process.

Thanks Emilio!

Over the next 6 months, we want to start a conversation around what you envision as ‘My Ideal City’. Stay tuned each week to PSFK.com and MyIdealCity.com for new ideas around the future of the city.

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