IN a bid to retake the public market from SM Prime Holdings Inc., the entity currently holding the reins in the project, the Baguio Market Vendors Multipurpose Cooperative (BAMARVEMPCO) has presented a plan of their own as a counter to the SM proposal.
BAMARVEMPCO’s plan, worth P5 billion, is a counter-proposal to SM’s redevelopment project plans, set to be undertaken as a public-private partnership (PPP) between the city government and the group of market vendors.
However, as SM currently holds the original proponent status (OPS) that grants them priority status, the BAMARVEMPCO proposal can only be presented to the city during the Swiss challenge process, where competitors can present their own counter-proposals to try and become the official partner of the city in the project.
But even at this stage, SM will still have the right to counter any proposals made in the Swiss challenge to retain their status.
The BAMARVEMPCO proposal thus has to wait until the negotiation process with the current OPS holder is completed and the final terms of reference for the market development project are established.
BAMARVEMPCO’s proposal would see a five-storey market structure to be established in the three-hectare area owned by the local government, worth P4.6 billion, while the remaining P400 million will be spent on a parking building and a relocation site to house displaced vendors while construction is ongoing.
The proposed relocation site for the vendors to be displaced by the market development project while in construction will include the Rabbit sinkhole and the city-owned property in Camp Allen. The project will be done in phases that will entail at least four years to be completed.
Based on BAMARVEMPCO’s proposal, 4,000 market vendors and even more can be accommodated, plus some 1,900 parking slots for motor vehicles of residents and tourists in the facility.
SM’s proposal, which is currently the one that the city is moving forward with, pegs the development cost of the improvement of the city public market to approximately P5.4 billion and a lease period of 50 years subject to a renewal of another 25 years upon the mutual agreement of both parties.
The cooperative’s proposal would also see the management of the building placed in the hands of a team of government officials and market cooperative representatives.
Earlier, the city awarded the original Proponent Status (OPS) for the proposed multi-billion development of the public market to SM Prime Holdings, Inc. where talks were undertaken that resulted in the crafting of the initial technical and financial terms of reference for the project.
In turn, the local government facilitated the crafting of the initial 34-point terms of reference that will be subject to negotiations between the city and SM for the final terms of reference for the conduct of the Swiss Challenge.
The negotiation process is currently stalled due to the modified enhanced community quarantine (MECQ) status of certain parts of the National Capital Region, which prevents the parties in the negotiation process from meeting properly face-to-face.
The current process of the redevelopment has been rocked by opposition and delays since the city started to once again pursue the modernization of the city market in 2019.
Initial plans were made by a technical working group composed of local government officials led by Councilors Mylen Yaranon and Philian Weygan-Allan, worth P2.5 billion, but the estimated cost soon ballooned to P6 billion as the project progressed.
The initial plans of the city would see a rehabilitation of the Magsaysay, Hilltop and Kayang areas in addition to the market proper, complete with enough space for an estimated 4,000 vendors, two basement parking areas, elevated walkways and road networks for easier access.
With the cost inflated to P6 billion, an amount the city cannot shoulder on its own properly, Magalong pushed the development project into the direction of public-private partnerships (PPP) with big companies and legal entities who can afford the cost.
Early in 2020, Magalong opened up the city to unsolicited proposals from investors, and two major developers, SM Prime Holdings Inc., and Robinsons Land Corporation, offered their proposals..
There was a third competitor – a consortium of cooperatives composed of Baguio market vendor cooperatives spearheaded by Zosimo Abratique, head of the Baguio Market Vendors Association (BAMARVA). But the groups were denied participation by the P4 due to the consortium being unable to secure a legal identity in time for the bidding process. This was due to the March 17 COVID-19 lockdowns that hampered the process with the Cooperative Development Authority.
The plans given by SM and Robinsons both have mall buildings that they would then operate for at least 25 years. SM plans to put up only a single large mall in the market area, with a mere two floors to accommodate the city market, while Robinsons would see a mall separate from a market structure.
Both plans were each initially estimated to cost at least P6 billion.