LEGAZPI CITY, July 29 (PNA) — A young businessman here welcomes the construction of a Php1.6-billion commercial complex at the heart of the city with mixed feelings of optimism and pessimism.
A joint investment venture between the Ayala Group of Companies and the locally-based Liberty Commercial Center (LCC) Corp., the construction of the business complex is now in full swing and is expected to be opened by December this year.
The complex, named Liberty City Center Mall (LCCM), is a four-story commercial complex to be built by the LCC Corp. while its partner, the Ayala Corp, will have the control over its operation, said Antonio Tan, LCC president.
Yves Yu, 36-year-old manager of the family-owned Jacky Merchandising, said in an interview that the birth of another commercial mall would bring negative and positive impacts to the retail sector of this city.
Yu said the effects would depend on the market share and it would be felt on short- and long-term bases.
He said that to be affected most initially will be the retailers in the Legazpi City market, which is situated beside the LCCM, saying “buyers at the wet market would prefer to shop in a cool, clean, and comfortable shopping center.”
Also to be affected would be garments, foot wears, dry goods, souvenir stores and small groceries.
According to Yu, the short-term effect would be on their sales output as their market will be reduced.
He stressed that to counter this impact, retail store owners should adapt and make innovations to level off with the market competition.
“We have to be creative, innovative in meeting this challenges,” the former president of the JCI-Legazpi said.
He expressed optimism, saying “we have to be ready as at the end of the day, it will bring more benefits.”
“To those who can’t adopt innovations, it would be better for them to close,” Yu said.
As for the long-term impact, the establishment of the LCCM would eventually further improve the economy of the city, in particular, and Albay province, in general.
It will also create new jobs, thus, bringing down the unemployment rate of the province.
Another positive effect, Yu said, is that there would the entry of national brands in the local market.
“You don’t have to go to Manila to buy signature items that are not yet available here,” he added.
As for the competition among super malls here, the businessman said, it will all depend on whether or not they will study how the market flows, it will all depend on the buying population and what product or goods they have to offer.
The LLCM complex lies in 1.4-hectare lot owned by the city government and is leased by the LCC.
The LCC entered to a memorandum of agreement with the city government in the late 1990s to lease the property for 50 years at Php5.5-million-a-year lease.
Some Php16.5 million in advance rental has been paid to the City Treasurer’s Office.
Dindo Fernando, Ayala’s assistant vice president for external affairs, said in a press conference Tuesday,that the mall will showcase local and high-end merchandisers of shoes, bags and clothing apparels, appliances, hardwares, bookstores, restaurants and coffee shops that will occupy the almost 300 stalls of the mall.
“Of these, 30 stalls will be available to local business enterprises interested to display and sell their merchandise at the mall,” he said.
Tan said that under the agreement, the department store and supermarket will be operated by the LCC.
Fernando said the Ayala-LCC mall will be their first venture in Bicol.
Hans Katipunan of Ayala said the operation of the mall would create some 3,000 jobs, aside from the 1,000 employees hired to construct the mall complex.
Katipunan said that aside from the stores, four cinema houses and entertainment centers will occupy the fourth floor of the mall.
To solve the parking problem, the mall will have an underground parking area to accommodate 250 vehicles.
Katipunan said they expect 25,000 to 35,000 prospective customers a day to visit and shop at the mall once it is operational by December.
The mall will cater to all types of people — from the poor to the middle-level and rich sector.
He said the LCC Mall will make 31 the total of Ayala’s commercial complexes set up across the country.
The recently inaugurated complex was that in Iloilo City.
LCC, owned by the Tan family, a Filipino-Chinese business clan here, operates three regional malls in the cities of Legazpi, Tabaco, and Naga, aside from the eight community malls and 40 express marts across the region.
City Mayor Noel Rosal welcomed the joint venture as an economic “milestone” for the city being tagged as among the Liveable Cities in the country.
The establishment of the mall will also bring value-added revenues in the form of business taxes, and income tax return to the city where the Ayala Group pledged to pay their taxes.
Rosal said Ayala officials, in their talks, also expressed their interest in developing subdivisions, resorts, hotels, condominiums, aside from operating the 18-hole golf course in Barangay Bigaa here,
Aside from the LCC Mall, the city has at least three major malls — the Metro Pacific Gaisano Mall, LCC, and Embarcadero, with two more under construction — the Yashano and Gregorian malls. (PNA)