A PRIVATE firm has proposed to build “mega infrastructure projects” worth more than P200 billion at the South Road Properties (SRP).
In a press conference on Tuesday, Jan. 16, 2024, Emmanuel Mandaraig, president of Mandaraig Infrabuild Corp. (MIC), said their aim is to support the Cebu City Government’s collective aspiration of a Singapore-like Cebu with Melbourne features.
MIC’s proposal includes the construction of a 10-story City Hall podium building, a 1,000-bed hospital, seven-star hotels, residential and commercial buildings, a 100,000-capacity coliseum, and a recreational park located inside a 45.66-hectare lot at the SRP.
On Wednesday, Jan. 17, City Administrator Collin Rosell said the City is open to exploring a partnership with MIC.
“In accordance with the direction of the mayor, everybody must be involved. This (unsolicited proposal) should not be discriminated (against) so long as the compliance to the existing law is being made. Ang problema lang dili kaayo adjusted sa current trend ang atong ordinansa (The problem is our ordinance has not been adjusted to the current trend),” he said.
He explained that with the current trend, Mandaraig is the one securing funding, as well as gathering all the elements needed for potential major development or infrastructure projects.
He said Mandaraig is reaching out to funders from outside, particularly from Dubai in the United Arab Emirates, presenting documents as part of the engagement.
However, Rosell said the City has its own regulations, especially concerning joint ventures involving the private sector.
“We just have to follow this ordinance and procedures for them to be granted the opportunity to partner with the City in developing the city as well as introducing infrastructure projects,” he said.
According to Rosell, MIC has experience as a contractor, but it is stepping up its game as an investor that will look for funds for “big-ticket” projects.
“That Mandaraig is Filipino na siya and he has experience pooling resources. So naa na na silay mga (They already have a) funder, and they wanted to get a project from the City and they will pull all the resources. Based na siya sa (He is based in) Cebu, formerly Iloilo na siya kanang Mandaraig,” he said.
Rosell said that if the project pushes through, it will benefit the constituents of the city in terms of employment, supply, infrastructure and, later on, taxes.
He said the City can always adopt a safety net, including giving the group a timeline to implement the project.
“Three months to move. If nothing will be moving, then the City will be having an option. That’s the safety net, whether to withdraw or to allow some more if ever they are moving,” Rosell said.
He said that as per initial discussion, the group agreed with the City’s condition and showed willingness to coordinate.
Asked what will happen to the funds allocated for the proposed legislative building in the 2024 budget, Rosell said the City’s own allocation will be spared and will be converted into social services and other expenses.
Rosell said they have yet to determine where in the SRP the project will rise, adding that they will abide by the plans of the City Planning and Development Office.
Mandaraig, on Tuesday, told SunStar Cebu that the project will be undertaken at no cost to the City Government as they have already secured funding from a Dubai-and Europe-based investor.
He said an estimated P246 billion will be invested in the new City Hall and 14 other infrastructure projects.
“Helping” Cebu City
“There was a plan to transfer the City Hall to SRP, and we are giving the City Government a good run of their money. A 10-story podium for the City Hall and above that podium is a 67-story twin tower building,” Mandaraig said. “We will help him (Rama) in providing the funds and implementing the project,” he added.
Mandaraig said P15 billion or more will be spent on the new City Hall. The floors beyond the 10th floor will be open for office lease, which will be one of the strategies of the firm to recoup its investment and pay back investors, he said.
For the project to materialize, the City Government and MIC will have to forge a public-private partnership through a joint venture agreement.
Mandaraig said if the project proceeds, it will take only three to five years to build.
He said the firm will conduct a feasibility study, including soil testing at the proposed site, to determine the viability of the project.
MIC is a subsidiary of the Mandaraig Trustworthy Construction Corp., an Aklan-based developer that had active participation in the construction of SM Mall of Asia, Bonifacio Global City, and the Smart City of Tarlac and Cavite.
On May 29, 2023, Vice Mayor Raymond Alvin Garcia announced that three lot areas had been proposed for the construction of the planned new City Hall and a government center at the SRP.
The City Government will spend P400 million for the construction of the executive branch building and another P400 million for the legislative branch.
The project will also house a complex for national government agencies. The old City Hall will be converted into a museum.
Transferring the City Hall to the SRP is seen to help decongest traffic in the downtown area, while providing a “one-stop shop” for all government services, allowing faster transactions and providing more convenience to the transacting public.