City awaiting turnover of Maharlika building
The local government is awaiting the decision of the State-owned Human Settlements Development Corporation (HSDC) on the early turnover of the Maharlika Livelihood Center building to the city that will serve as an added source of internally generated revenue to be used by the city for the implementation of programs, projects and activities beneficial to the greater majority of the populace.
City Budget Officer Leticia O. Clemente stated that the Maharlika Livelihood Center is one of the potential investment opportunities that will be offered by the local government for interested partners or the same will be operated and managed by the city depending on the outcome of a study being undertaken for the said purpose.
Earlier, the local government requested the HSDC on the possibility of turning over the Maharlika building to the city this year instead of 2025 or the expiration of the 50-year lease that had been granted to the government-owned and controlled corporation.
The city budget officer claimed that based on their initial study, the local government can generate an annual gross income of more than 90 million once it will be managing and operating the facility when the HSDC will decide to already turnover the facility to the city.
However, she explained that the net income that will accrue to the city’s coffers will be more or less P50 million annually from the more or less 1,000 lessees in the different floors of the structure.
According to her, plans for the possible facelift of the building are being readied by the City Buildings and Architecture Office (CBAO) that will be implemented by the local government once the management and operation of the building will be officially turned over to the city within the year.
The Maharlika Livelihood Center stands on the former site of the Baguio Stone Market, which was gutted by a major fire in 1970 and was demolished in the mid-1970s. In 1972, the Baguio city council leased the property to MAR-BAY and Co., Inc., which was given the right to build and manage the Maharlika Livelihood Center for 25 years.
The center opened in 1982 under the auspices of First Lady Imelda Marcos as human settlements minister. The establishment is the first shopping mall and livelihood hub in Baguio. Nearby souvenir shops which were displaced by fire moved into the building.
In 1975, the Baguio city council extended the lease period of the Maharlika Livelihood Center to 50 years, with the lease set to expire on April 27, 2025. In 1980, the city council acknowledged the transfer of MAR-BAY’s rights to the Maharlika Livelihood Complex to the Human Settlements Development Corporation (HSDC) including additional developments built by MAR-BAY in the property such as the MAR-BAY Baguio Plaza Hotel and MAR-BAY shopping center. The HSDC is an attached agency of the Department of Agriculture (DA). In 2009, President Gloria Macapagal Arroyo issued a directive to the DA to hand over the retail complex to the city government since it does not fulfill any agriculture-related function.
However, the retail center remained under HSDC by the end of Arroyo’s presidency. – Dexter A. See