$120-MILLION CASINO-RESORT PROJECT
    Investor asks SBMA for alternative site

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    SUBIC BAY FREEPORT  —  Korean firm Grand Utopia, Inc., investing some US$120-million for the controversial 15-story integrated resort-hotel has requested Subic Bay Metropolitan Authority (SBMA) for an alternative place to transfer their project.

    This was disclosed earlier by SBMA Administrator Armand C. Arreza after attending a Congress hearing on the allegations of Architect Felino Palapox, Jr, with regard to the alleged extortion on the rebidding of the Subic Bay Master Planning and the 366 trees including century-old trees cut, 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.  ” he explained. 

    “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 2-hectare former mini-golf course located at the Waterfront Road near Alava pier,” Arreza 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 January 22. 

    It can be recalled that 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 it and make the necessary decision on it, he said.

    One alternative location was the abandoned Grand Legenda Hotel project also located at the Waterfront Road, 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 on-going negotiations, Arreza added.

    Meanwhile, Arreza lauded some cabinet secretaries for intervening as well to save the $120-million investment and expected to yield 5,000 jobs here.

    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.

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