Mall expansion to push through

THE Supreme Court has given the go signal for the expansion of SM City Baguio although the temporary restraining order is still in effect.

In an en banc resolution dated April 19, 2016, the Supreme Court clarified the expansion plan was excluded from the TRO they earlier issued last year to stop the cutting and balling of more than 180 pine and alnus trees for the construction of SM Baguio’s Sky Park.

Before the project, SM has secured the final approval and necessary permits from pertinent government agencies. Inputs from different meaningful advocacy and community groups were gathered and considered to put the project together.

The project was designed with sustainable benefits for Baguio residents, and to make the mall more enjoyable and relaxing for families which features green walls consisting of live plants that will not only improve air quality, but will help bring concrete solutions to the continuing soil erosion in Luneta Hill.

SM City Baguio’s Sky Park according to mall officials will be an attraction for the increasing number of tourists in the city because it will incorporate the so-called green architecture to help absorb the impact of climate change such as a state-of-the-art sewerage treatment plant (STP), and an underground rainwater catchment tank having a capacity of 7,432.54 cubic meters of water which could be used in the mall operations.

Furthermore, "green walls" consisting of live plants will help improve the air quality in the area, making the mall both relaxing and enjoyable for the whole family. In certain parts of the mall, natural lighting will be used to cater energy efficiency endeavors.

SM’s Sky Park will include green foliage and water features to help mitigate heat island effect and absorb rain water. It is a landscape area, park and viewdeck with ‘green space’ located in the third floor of the existing mall. It will have an area of approximately 4,333 square meters designed as an elevated garden, which contain up to 53 species of trees and plants not merely potted plants with canopied walkways, ponds and waterscapes.

The project will add a total of 68,123.75 square meters to the original 106,939.35 existing mall bringing the total mall area to around 176,073.26 square meters contributing to the solutions of the city’s parking problems and will generate a total of 652 additional parking slots bringing the total parking slots within the mall to around 1,419.

Additional pedestrian and vehicle entrances along Gov. Pack Road will be provided by the mall management in order to help decongest traffic along Session Road, the only gateway to the giant mall in the city.

In addition to the new mall features, eco-friendly LED lights and park finders will also be used in the existing and additional parking spaces to help minimize the emission of harmful carbon or smoke coming from vehicles since available parking spaces will be easier to find.

SM was already able to plant around 60,301 assorted tree saplings in the different parts of Baguio and nearby towns of Tuba and La Trinidad, Benguet in compliance to the permit requiring the mall to plant at least 100 assorted seedlings as a replacement for every tree that will be cut to pave the way for the project to push through.

Moreover, SM committed to plant 500,000 assorted tree seedlings in the different parts of Baguio and Benguet in coordination with the DENR and the concerned local governments in the next five years as part of the mall’s commitment to assist the government in preserving and protecting the city’s environment. (Roderick Osis)

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