New mall, condo to rise in Ilocos town
by Cristina Arzadon
San Nicolas, Ilocos Norte (23 February) -- Business is looking up in this town, squeezed between two cities, with the near completion of the first shopping mall in Ilocos Norte built by property developer Robinsons Land Corp.
Sitting between the cities of Laoag and Batac, this town has been the home of small-scale industries from its famous terra cotta manufacturing, furniture-making and blacksmith.
Construction of the two-level shopping mall began in November, last year. It is targeted for completion this September. The mall is a joint venture deal with Ilocos-based property developer Venvi Development Corp.
San Nicolas Mayor Alfredo Valdez, Jr. said business and employment opportunities will trickle down once the mall starts operating.
He said the town has already earned around P1.5 million from the mall project's zoning fee and building permit alone.
"We are the only town which is non-dependent from the IRA (internal revenue allotment) share," he said noting that San Nicolas' income class has been reclassified from fourth to a second-class municipality.
Architect Ike Madamba, of Venvi, said the two-hectare mall project is part of a 20-hectare development area that will include three condominium structures, hotel and office buildings and call centers that will be put up adjacent to the mall.
Madamba said based on their timetable, a tenant's conference among prospective business outlets is set in March at the Fort Ilocandia Resort and Casino in Laoag before mall spaces will be turned over to tenants in June.
Venvi Corp. is likewise set to break ground in May for its three-building Balai Condominium which will occupy a 5,700 square meter-lot next to the mall.
The P450 million-condominium project will be formally launched in Hawaii where Ilocano families have been residing.
Madamba said the decision to market the real estate project to Ilocano communities in Hawaii is logical because Ilocanos would want to have their own property when they return home after years of working abroad.
"We are offering them the convenience of condo-living, a departure from the usual gated communities that other real estate developers have been offering," he said.
"We do not know how big the market is, we are not sure whether this (condo project) will fly. But our proposition should be appealing," he added.
Madamba said condo-living will be more attractive to returning Overseas Filipino Workers (OFWs) who have been used to a kind of lifestyle abroad.
"More often, houses are left to relatives while our OFWs are outside the country. But after staying abroad for a while, they might go back not being able to recognize their own bedroom because it has been invaded by relatives," he said.
"If they have their own condo units, they can go back to working abroad without thinking about security or who will stay in their house while away," he added.
Robinsons Ilocos Norte will be its fourth mall in Northern Luzon next to Robinsons Starmills and Robinsons Place in Pampanga and Luisita Mall in Tarlac. (PIA) [top]