SM Prime redesigns to expand SM City Cabanatuan

SM Prime Holdings Inc. had to re-design its mall in this city owing to large population and numbers of tricycles plying daily, firm officials said.

In a mini-press conference at the city hall here, SM City officials said they wanted residents of this city and adjoining areas to enjoy the comfort of malling, thus delay in constructioin which should have started in the last quarter of 2012.

From the original 65,000 square meters, the project was expanded to 135,000 square meters after revision that took more than two months, said Annie Garcia, president of SM Supermalls as her group presented to media perspectives of the mall which construction is scheduled to start on the first week of May this year at completion within thefirst quarter of 2014.

"We are really excited. We want our constituents here to to be happy. That's why we enhance the design, " she said.

Engineer Bien Mateo, vice president for mall operations, said their initial draft was indeed smaller until the company had a full grasp of business activities in this city, dubbed as trade and education center of Nueva Ecija.

Based on our studies, we found that the population in Cabanatuan is about 300,000 during the night and reached up to more than a million during the day, Mateo said, saying they had to incorporate all these inputs to their new design.

We will make the design of the mall bigger, even the parking space and we will put up convenient facilities, he said.

Realizing the volume of tricycle, Mateo said, they now have a parking space to accommodate 1,000 tricycles and 2,000 other vehicles.

The mall will have a basement parking, he explained. The explanations were made amid doubts on the supposed delay on the construction that was earlier reported to start before the end of 2012.

After a decade-long negotiation since 2002, SM Prime Holdings Inc. has announced on July last year that it is pushing through its plan.

Among the anchor tenants expected in the mall are SM Supermarket, SM Department Store, Jollibee, Chowking, Greenwich, Pizza Hut, KFC, and Mang Inasal, BDO, Watsons, Ace Hardware, National Bookstore, Ideal Vision, Bench and Penshoppe.

Garcia said that the four-storey SM City Cabanatuan will feature spaces for food court, fashion boutiques, cyberzone, shoe stores, bookstores, jewelry stores, novelty stores, cinemas among others.

But SM Cabanatuan City, she said, will have the look of their "best and latest designs," which are found only few of their branches, particularly of having sky garden on its top floor which was first set up in North EDSA and in the recently opened SM City Lanang in Davao.

"We are incorporating the latest features (in SM City Cabanatuan)," she said. Eugene Mintu, assistant city administrator, assured the readiness of this city to accommodate the influx of people to be created by the mall.

"You can see the road networks that we constructed even before the mall is established," he said. SM Prime also owns a 25-hectare property in Cabanatuan’s Barangay Santa Arcadia here.

Meanwhile, SM department store president Jorge Mendiola said they intend to hire at least 90 percent of their estimated 5,000 employees from the city locals.