Updated February 27, 2009 12:00 AM [ philstar.com ]
SUBIC BAY FREEPORT , Philippines – Korean firm Grand Utopia Inc. has requested for an alternative location for its $120-million integrated resort-hotel project at the Subic Bay Freeport Zone.
Subic Bay Metropolitan Authority (SBMA) Administrator Armand C. Arreza is having difficulty in conforming to Subic Bay master plan as 366 trees, including century-old trees cut, are expected to give way to the casino project.
“Regarding the tree issue, we have made it abundantly clear that the SBMA position is to save all trees at the project site at all cost. We have directed the project developer that the trees should be incorporated in the design,” said Arreza.
“This is the call of the investor. The proponent has already requested us to look for an alternative site instead of doing a major redesign incorporating all trees in the development plan of the two-hectare former mini-golf course located at the Waterfront Road near Alava Pier,” he said.
This request of transfer emanated when the Department of Environment and Natural Resources returned Grand Utopia Inc.’s project proposals with “no comment” on Jan. 22.
The DENR recalled the authority of SBMA to issue the environmental compliance certificate (ECC).
“We were in the midst of reviewing the application when our authority to issue an ECC was taken from us, and we have cooperated,” Arreza said.
The DENR is still reviewing and would make the necessary decision on it, he said.
One alternative location he pointed out its the abandoned Grand Legenda Hotel project also located at the Waterfront Road at the central business district.
“That’s a possible location because the area is already an eyesore. If you notice, some of the rusted beams are exposed and they may collapse anytime and the hanging crane pose hazard,” he said.
Other places have been identified but remain undisclosed because of ongoing negotiations, Arreza added.
The Ocean 9 casino will feature a central stage for live entertainment and performances, as well as a lift-up type of walkway that that could be used for fashion show. It will also boast convention and business facilities to complement leisure activities intended for foreign and local tourists.
Once completed, this prime entertainment facility is expected to draw into Subic Bay a minimum of 130,000 foreign tourists a year. — Ric Sapnu