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SM City Legazpi to rise next year

LEGAZPI CITY—Henry Sy’s SM Prime Holdings, the largest mall operator and among the country’s highest shopping management firms, has its eyes glued on this city for one of its next SM City malls.

SM City Legazpi
This will be in furtherance of business operations in the city of SM, which now runs its huge Save More grocery store at the Legazpi Central Terminal complex and two local branches of Banco de Oro, City Planning and Development Office chief Engr. Joseph Esplana said over the weekend.

As a first choice, the proposed new SM City will locate next year at the about-a-hectare vacant lot along the Legazpi Boulevard and within the site of the new urban development hub the city government is aggressively developing as an expansion of its fast-congesting old business district, according to Esplana.

The other option is the sprawling Legazpi Domestic Airport ground owned by the Air Transportation Office which will be vacated and eyed for privatization as soon as the New Legazpi Airport, also named Southern Luzon International Airport, now ongoing construction in the nearby Daraga town comes into operations by 2017, he said.

SM representatives, Esplana said, have been arranging the SM City coming to the locality and they are very keen on establishing soon to take advantage of the fast-growing investment climate taking place locally.

“Pinagkukumpulan na tayo ng mga malalaking negosyo (We are already being swarmed by big businesses),” he said, explaining that it is an offshoot of the massive urban development and investment promotion that the city government under Mayor Noel Rosal is undertaking.

He said Ayala Corp., one of the country’s business giants, is already around with its partnership with Liberty Commercial Center Inc. (LCCI) in the ongoing establishment of the City Center Mall within a 1.5-hectare land owned by the city government at the heart of the city’s central business district.

The property has been leased by the city to LCCI of the Tans, a Filipino-Chinese family from Tabaco City, Albay which pioneered the putting up of malls here and most parts of Bicol starting way back in the late 1970s.

Also in the bandwagon of big investments in the city are the Robinsons Group of the Gokongwei family and the Gaisano Grand Group of Companies of the Cebu-based Gaisano family which now runs the Pacific Mall Legazpi, the first full-sized integrated shopping center in the Bicol region.
The mall located at a prime location within an over-two-hectare property opened in 2001 as the centerpiece of the Landco Business Park, a master planned central business district in the heart of the city.

Robinsons, on the other hand, has its supermarket at a prime location near the city hall and the Albay
provincial Capitol as part of one of the largest and most successful chains of malls in the country today.

The Gokongwei group also acquired in 2012 from Albay congressman Al Francis Bichara the Legazpi Savings Bank, the biggest thrift bank in Bicol based here.

With all these multi-billion-peso investments and the coming of SM City, Rosal said, the city that has been emerging as the new shopping and investment haven in Bicol, given its strategic location as the regional government center and center of transportation, health services and education.

The city boasts of an expansive market that extends from the entire province of Albay to the adjoining provinces of Camarines Sur, Catanduanes, Masbate and Sorsogon, down to Samar areas.

Shadowed by the majestic Mt. Mayon and recognized as the “City of Fun and Adventure” by the world’s travel industry, Legazpi is also the heart of Bicol’s tourism.

“We are impressed by this response of the country’s leading investors to our call for investments after the Department of Trade and Industry cited the Legazpi as the most business-friendly city in Bicol for its prompt compliance with the government’s simplified Business Permit and Licensing System,” Rosal said.

The Department of Interior and Local government (DILG) has also named Legazpi as Bicol’s “most business-friendly local government unit,” citing its effectiveness and efficiency in paving the way for the place to become haven of investments.

The Philippine Chamber of Commerce and Industry has recognized the city as the most business-friendly for the whole of South Luzon.

The Asian Institute of Management called Legazpi as one of the most competitive cities in the Philippines.

Apart from all these, the city is also one of the best places of business process outsourcing outside Metro Manila when it advanced in 2011 to the 10 next wave cities in the country’s industry list of the Business Processing Association of the Philippines.

Early last year, the city government won its second Seal of Good Housekeeping from the DILG for its excellence in the field of good governance measured by administrative, social, economic, environmental and other forms achievements that benefited both the community and its constituents.

The National Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Council and the Department of National Defense have also awarded in the last two consecutive years the city government with the Gawad Kalasag Awards as national champion in disaster risk reduction and management in the City Category of the contest.

Late last year, the city government also won the Most Livable City Award, Galing Pook Award and Silver Governance Trailblazer Award -- all for excellence in local governance -- and early this year, it has been nominated for the 2016 Lee Kuan Yew World City Prize by the Embassy to the Philippines of the Republic of Singapore. (by Danny Calleja, PNA)

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