MORE than just the opening of the new mall, for property giant Ayala Land Inc. (ALI), the activity is a celebration of a lasting and deep partnership of the company with the people of Bacolod City and Negros Occidental.
ALI senior vice president and head for commercial business group Jose Emmanuel Jalandoni, who spoke in the opening rites of Ayala Malls Capitol Central in Bacolod City on Friday, December 14, said the partnership they have established with Bacoleños and Negrenses started way back 1985.
Jalandoni said this was the time when the annual Negros Trade Fair was first staged at the Glorietta Activity Center in Makati City and it is going stronger for 33 years now.
“Thank you for the opportunity to work with everyone from Negros,” he said, adding that “it is a privilege for Ayala to be your partner.”
The opening activity was led by Jalandoni together with Negros Occidental Governor Alfredo Marañon Jr. and Bacolod City Mayor Evelio Leonardia, among other local officials.
In his speech, the Ayala executive recalled that in 1997, the firm launched Ayala North Point in Talisay City. This was its first high-end subdivision outside Metro Manila.
In 2013, it opened The District North Point Ayala Malls, also in Talisay City.
Two years after, Ayala launched the Amaya Residential Condominium at the back of the newly-opened mall. Back then, it was one of the first residential condominium developments in the city, Jalandoni said.
In December 2017, Seda Capitol Central was opened. It is “performing very well” according to Jalandoni.
It was followed by the opening of a seven-floor office building with 11,000 square meters leasable space in October 2018.
The building is now fully occupied by a business process outsourcing (BPO) company with a total of 2,000 workers by next year.
“Bacolod is a strong market,” he said, adding that “I just wish that it has more lots to build more hotel rooms and bigger ballrooms because the opportunity is really here.”
For Jalandoni, the 6,000 jobs the mall is giving to Negrenses once it is fully operational “shows our continuing commitment to the city and province.”
The P5.2 billion worth of development along Gatuslao Street, at the back of the Provincial Capitol building, is positioned to showcase the best of the city alongside global brands.
The seven-level commercial establishment is also poised to strengthen the Negrense tradition by showcasing the best home-grown products and concepts.
Some of which include interior designs made by local artists, Fiesta Negrense highlighting locally-produced products, and a Central Bazaar serving as an incubator to support local start-up businesses, among others.
Other amenities included food court, cinema, chapel, and trade hall with four function rooms, among others.
Catalyst for progress and change
In Marañon’s speech as he thanked Ayala for the trust and confidence to Negros Occidental, he said the edifice will be the catalyst for progress and change in the province.
Marañon expressed certainty that many investors from Manila will also come to the province as what has been pioneered by Ayala.
“I think the only way to decongest imperial Manila is by developing the countryside,” the governor said,
“Thank you Ayala for your vision,” he said, as he assured that the provincial government will support the company’s program.
Marañon noted that many investors have been visiting the Provincial Economic Development and Investment Center because the province has so much potential.
He mentioned food and natural resources like water, which is the most abundant resource. “We have seven rivers to be tapped,” he said.
Leonardia recalled how this side of the city where the mall is located now looked like when it was not yet developed.
“I was amazed by the transformation. We can see for ourselves what is happening for Bacolod City,” he said, recalling how the number of business registrations in the city has significantly increased to 23,157 as of Friday from only about 18,000 in the previous years.
The mayor told Ayala officials that their decision to come to Bacolod was a right and a wise decision.
“We will assure you that you will have a business climate that is conducive for growth,” Leonardia said, adding that the newly-opened mall becomes more meaningful and significant as it goes with the celebration of the city’s 80th year.
He added that “thank you for giving us another reason to smile.”
The Ayala Malls Capitol Central is the second largest in Visayas and Mindanao in terms of mall projects of Ayala.
As it opened, it is now occupied with 100 inline and 160 specialty merchants. In 2019, it is opening about 60 to 70 more merchants.
It can be recalled that of the P5.2 billion total project cost, P200 million is allocated for BPO spaces.
Clavel Tongco, area head for Visayas-Mindanao Operations of Ayala Malls, said the multi-level BPO spaces totaling to 8,000 square meters are still open for lease for interested locators.
“If we are to consider the mall excluding the Metro Gaisano, the entire development is already about 60 percent occupied,” Tongco said, adding the entire mall will be fully operational in 2019.