RETAIL giant SM is now the new owner and operator of JCentre Mall, a commercial development in Mandaue City.
This was confirmed by Justin Uy, president of EverJust Realty Development Corp., the developer and owner of JCentre Mall, on Friday, Feb. 10, 2023.
Uy, in a phone interview, said SM will take over the mall which officially closed its doors on Jan. 31 after 11 years of operation. He, however, declined to disclose the sale agreement.
Uy said SM will renovate the entire mall and will reopen it in March 2024.
“SM plans to expand the mall’s footprint and will even open a department store,” he said.
The mall sits on a 12-hectare property along A.S Fortuna St. in Mandaue City. About 3.1 hectares is occupied by the mall. It had over 200 tenants.
Uy said the sale of JCentre Mall was part of the group’s strategy to remain relevant in today’s post pandemic era.
He said of the businesses owned by the group, the retail segment had the least return of investment, its poor performance further exacerbated by the pandemic.
Uy said proceeds of the sale will be used to pay off loans and fund the group’s expansion plans for its other businesses in tourism, real estate and food manufacturing.
The Uy family owns JPark Island Resort Waterpark Cebu in Mactan, J Tower Residences in Mandaue City and Profood International Corp., the leading producer and exporter of various dried fruit, preserves, purees, concentrates and juices.
JCentre’s mall management issued a notice of pre-termination of lease contract to its tenants on Oct. 29, 2022.
“We regret to inform you that the mall will have its new ownership soon and major renovation will be done in the coming months. Hence, we are giving you 90 days to prepore and vacate the leased area. We allow a grace period for the total or complete egress until Jan. 31, 2023,” the letter said.
Commercial leasing had a rough year since the pandemic began in 2020 due to the varying stages of lockdowns, paralyzing brick and mortar operations. While stores weren’t allowed to open during that time, consumers turned to online shopping.
Uy drew inspiration from the Sy family, owner and developer of SM mall chains in the country, when they ventured into commercial leasing through JCentre Mall, the flagship project under EverJust Realty.
SM Hypermarket was the mall’s anchor tenant.
Uy, in a 2011 interview, said the entry of the company into real estate business was prompted by the booming real estate industry in the region which has been continuously growing over the past years.
“If there is something good to follow, then you have to follow,” said Uy.
The plan to put up a shopping mall in Mandaue was long planned by the Uy family some years ago but was postponed due to the soaring prices of construction materials. Uy said they felt it was not the perfect time to pursue the plan.