Big markets’ rehab to take two years

(From left) Iloilo City Vice Mayor Jeffrey Ganzon, Mayor Jerry Treñas, SM Prime President Jeffrey Lim, and SM super mall President Steven Tan lead the awarding of the long-term lease agreements for the Iloilo Central and Terminal Markets. (Photo by Arnold Almacen/Iloilo City Mayor’s Office)

By Joseph B.A. Marzan

The company that bagged the right to rehabilitate the Iloilo Central and Terminal Markets in the heart of Iloilo City said Tuesday that the projects would take two years to complete altogether barring any impediment.

SM Prime Holdings, Inc. (SMPHI) formally accepted the 25-year lease agreement with the Iloilo City Government at a formal awarding on Tuesday, a deal that may cost the company up to P3 billion pesos at P1.5 billion per market.

Under the deal, SMPHI through SM Supermalls will redevelop the two markets, while the city government will continue to manage the finished market facilities through the Local Economic Enterprise Office.

SM Supermalls President Steven Tan said during the event’s press conference that they are looking to complete the two markets in about two years’ time, already including the relocation of vendors to a temporary area.

Iloilo City Mayor Jerry Treñas on Monday already identified Rizal Street (in front of PHINMA University of Iloilo) as the temporary market site for Central Market vendors, and Mabini Street for those from the Terminal Market.

SMPHI President Jeffrey Lim said that what attracted them to engage with the city government on these projects is their desire to give back to the city, which he credits to the company group’s success.

“We have been in Iloilo [City] for a long time already and we’re very glad that the local government and us worked very closely and we’ve become bigger also because of Iloilo City. Oftentimes, when we do this kind of project, it is actually a legacy project and this is something that we would want to give back also to the city as SM to serve the people as well,” Lim said.

Lim also said that they are still coming up with the design, in coordination with the city government, and they expect the total price tag to increase due to the current inflation spike.

Tan added that they would make changes only to the internal layout of the market and would only make minimal improvements to the external façade of the market buildings, citing the Central Market as a local heritage site.

“The first thing that we have in mind is to make sure that the structure is protected. We will be modernizing a lot of the features inside; the ingress and egress of the RDUs, also how it’s maintained. This is all going to be computerized, CCTVs and all. We will make sure that the drainage, the water system, all these things are kept in mind,” said Tan.

As to talks on displacement, Treñas reiterated that there would be no displacement, and even suggested that there may be more vendors at the redeveloped market.

“We have been repeating this, no one will get displaced. As much as possible, not only all vendors will be coming back, but maybe we can also add more vendors. We want a good place for every We want to assure everyone, and I will stand on it as mayor,” the mayor said.

On SM’s side, Tan said that they would continue to consult all vendors and affected stakeholders to ensure that they would be heard from the start of the redevelopment process up to eventual reopening of the market buildings.

“We will make sure that all vendors will be accommodated. We actually have allotted extra [temporary stall] units to make sure that everyone is being accommodated. We will be doing a lot of consultation,” he said.

The company, which started with its chain of malls since 1958, has also previously worked with the local government in Dasmariñas City, Cavite to transform the former Kadiwa Public Market into the SM Marketmall, its first public-private- partnership project.