A COMMUNITY mall has been proposed for Burnham Park in Baguio City.

City Councilor Edgar Avila, committee chairperson for Urban Planning, Lands and Housing, has begun a series of consultations on the Burnham parking issue, opening doors for proposals for the park.

The City Council gathered stakeholders to the first of many consultations on the construction of a parking facility at the old auditorium at Burnham Park.

Alexander Cruz, chairman of XRC Mall Developer Incorporated, submitted their P800-million unsolicited proposal for a long-term lease under a PPP to construct at their own cost a multi-level parking that can accommodate 500 cars and 15 tourist buses, commercial mall with a pasalubong center and at least a 100-room hotel.

“We will construct, operate and manage the project efficiently at no cost to the local government of Baguio.”

Cruz said the company has 24 community malls and four other ongoing construction projects this year and is engaged in the business of development, operations, management and leasing of public markets, community malls and commercial areas in the country.

Avila said the consultations will discuss a parking facility and its design at the space of the old auditorium only in accordance to the University of the Cordilleras (UC) 2010 Burnham Master Development plan which was donated to the city.

Avila said the UC plan also identified the old auditorium area as a parking space and added the former Philippine Tourism Authority has also approved a building in the same area in the past, but never pushed through.

Avila said proposals for other sites may also be discussed during the consultations.

He urged the public to attend the consultations to air their sentiments, protest or suggestions.

“This is the opportunity to be heard,” he said.

The Committee on Urban Planning, Lands and Housing will determine the number of needed consultations and will decide in the end if a facility will be built in the Burnham area.

Avila said the measure on proposed parking at the Igorot Park will have to consider the old auditorium parking consultations and said the mayor forming a technical working group will not affect the present talks nor pose immediate concerns.

Urban planner and Architect Jodi Alabanza, who also attended the public consultation, said high-rise structures at the Burnham area deviates from the original design of the park.

“It will destroy the character of Burnham Park,” said Alabanza.

Alabanza advocated to utilize other areas for multi-level parking spaces citing the vacant lot at the DPS compound for the facility or explore the La Trinidad, Itogon, Sablan, Tuba and Tublay areas to use instead.

“I have long said that the carrying capacity of Baguio has been met and we should utilize the BLISTT,” added the urban planner.

The UC master development plan was prepared by Arch. Robert Romero described the parking facility to be “Beside Picnic Grove 2 would be a tourist bus parking areas with a green parking building that would cater to parking requirements at the Athletic Bowl area. This building will also have concession areas like a convenience store, Wi-Fi center, drivers lounge, etc. restaurant and a green roof for promenade and viewing decks. This parking building can accommodate 300 cars and 20 tourist buses.”