MALL developer SM Group targets to open the university it is building in Cebu City by 2025. The school is adjacent to SM City Cebu’s north wing area in Barangay Mabolo.
The Cebu campus of the National University is slated to finish construction in 2024 and targeted to begin operations in 2025, after its inspection and accreditation by the Commission on Higher Education, said Michelle Leslie Llanos, vice president for mall operations-Visayas of SM Supermalls, in a press conference Saturday, Dec. 9, 2023.
In 2008, the SM Group of Companies acquired majority ownership of the National University (NU), the country’s first private non-sectarian school.
NU opened on Aug. 1, 1900 as Colegio Filipino. It was later renamed Colegio Mercantil with the introduction of business and accounting courses. It became the National Academy in 1916 and was renamed National University in 1921.
The university offers courses like architecture, commerce, dentistry, education, engineering, computer science, entrepreneurship, liberal arts, nursing and pharmacy.
“The National University will offer reasonable tuition because the intent is to help. As Tatang would say, ‘Education is the great equalizer.’ So we are very excited,” said Llanos. Tatang refers to SM’s founder, the late Henry Sy Sr.
Besides the National University, Llanos said two office towers will also rise at the back portion of the mall complex.
According to a SunStar Cebu report in July 2022, the offices for the business process outsourcing towers will be from levels six to 20, with the bottom five levels set aside for parking.
Under construction also is the expansion of the mall’s retail space.
“We feel that this is the right time for us to expand,” she said, adding that SM City Cebu remains one of the top five malls in the country.
Llanos said the mall’s expansion will spur economic activity in Cebu and generate employment at the same time.
Renovations are also being conducted inside the mall.
In response to the dynamic shifts in the retail landscape and evolving consumer preferences, the mall is actively enhancing its amenities, aesthetics and other features. The renovation will be executed in several phases, with the project expected to reach completion by 2025.
Llanos said the SM malls in Cebu are also gearing up for the anticipated surge in foot traffic in the days leading up to Christmas. She said they have adjusted mall hours, opening until 10 p.m. for Dec. 1 to 23, 25 and 30, to accommodate more shoppers for their holiday spending.
Property advisory firm Collier Philippines encouraged Cebu malls and retailers to cash in on the holiday spending, with the fourth quarter of every year traditionally a strong period for retail, given the release of employees’ holiday bonuses and a spike in remittances from Filipinos working abroad.
Colliers said careful curation of retail mixes and events in activity centers and high-density retail areas will likely play a crucial role in stoking retail spending for the remainder of 2023 up to the first quarter of 2024.