Preliminary talks have begun on a proposal of the provincial government to rehabilitate the Juan M. Alberto building that houses the Land Bank Virac branch as well as build a new commercial building on the former site of the JMA Theatre in Virac.
In a meeting held at the capitol Feb. 1, Governor Joseph Cua, Provincial Administrator Lemuel Surtida, Provincial Engineer Felix Vargas Jr., Marilou Vargas of the Provincial Treasurer’s Office and other department representatives deliberated the proposed redevelopment of the site.
“As the building is already dilapidated, the provincial government desires to liven up the place as well as generate more opportunities and revenues for the LGU,” Administrator Surtida said.
The vacant lot that used to house the theater demolished over three years ago will most likely be the site of the second phase of the Center Mall, which will be connected to the new building via an elevated bridge way. The Land Bank branch will also be occupying a huge portion of the ground floor of the new mall, while the top floors would be allotted for the mall and possibly a budget hotel.
According to a source, the provincial government could either finance the project with another loan or undertake the same through a Build-Operate-Transfer scheme similar to that of the Center Mall’s initial phase. It is claimed that the current mall operator is interested in expanding the original agreement by adding the unutilized third floor used as training center by the previous administration.
The new venture is expected to improve the image of the province and boost its economy by creating new jobs and encouraging the entry of new businesses into the island. Catandunganons will experience a more convenient life as they will be able to find necessities and supplies that are usually found in the mainland Bicol or Metro Manila, the participants said.
Though the time frame for the implementation of the infrastructure project has yet to be decided, the province is already in the preliminary stage where budget allocation for the said project is being considered. The proposal is expected to undergo a lengthy process and succeeding discussions for its successful and favorable implementation with the aim of developing a sturdier, competitive local economy for the benefit of Catandunganons. (Gidoemaly T. Romero/PIMO)