Sta. Lucia Realty Pays It Forward
In A Badly Hit Economy, Sta. Lucia Realty Pays It Forward
2020 was such a challenging year for everyone, but this property developer found a way to give back and help its tenants.
By Coni Tejada
Published March 24, 2021
The Sta. Lucia Business Center is the new kid on the (literal) block in the iconic Sta. Lucia East Grand Mall Complex along Marcos Highway, Cainta. (Photo: Architectural perspective only)
Something has risen in the east, and it’s not just the sun.
At the intersection of the major arteries of Eastern Metro Manila—Marcos Highway, F.P. Felix Avenue, and Gil Fernando Avenue—stands a new addition to the sprawling Sta. Lucia East Grand Mall Complex in Cainta. It is a sleek, shiny five-story office building set to serve the outsourcing industry. A definite first for this Meralco corporate partner, who also established the first community mall in the area with Sta. Lucia East Grand Mall Phase 1 about thirty years ago.
Planning and work on the once open-air parking lot started in 2018. The building was scheduled to open its doors in April 2020 but before it reached completion, the entire island of Luzon went on lockdown in March due to the pandemic. Work resumed in June when Metro Manila eased into General Community Quarantine (GCQ). By August, Meralco provided timely energization for the building.
In a matter of weeks, a BPO company moved in and immediately started its operations. Its lease of the building’s all five stories is set for the next five years.
COVID-19 Relief Efforts
As a Meralco corporate partner, Sta. Lucia Realty had its Guaranteed Minimum Billing Demand (GMBD) deferred during the early stages of the pandemic, helping the business stay afloat during rough economic times. It is the power distributor’s way of helping its partners ease into the new normal.
It appears that Sta. Lucia East Grand Mall, too, extended their own type of help to their partners.
“Our mall tenants were affected by the lockdown. They were closed so they couldn’t pay rent. We gave out fifty to seventy percent discounts on rental fees,” said Exequiel Robles, president of Sta. Lucia Realty and Development, Inc.
Sta. Lucia Realty also extended its own kind of assistance to its other clients.
“The House and Land Use Regulator Board asked us to give our clients about three to four months to catch up on their payments. We extended it a little further. There were those who couldn’t earn money so we had to adjust. Some clients requested a longer extension. Of course, it was a case-to-case basis but we all accommodated them.”
Robles believes—in the horizontal development sector, at least—that the real estate industry has bounced back from the economic effects of the pandemic.
He credits this to the Overseas Filipino Workers (OFWs), who make up a big part of their market. Steady payments and new business from this sector have provided this local developer relatively calm waters in 2020 despite the reports of boatloads of unemployed OFWs coming home. The Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas reported cash remittances from OFWs were up by 2.9 percent in October compared to the same month last year.
Paying it forward. President of Sta. Lucia Realty and Development, Inc. Exequiel Robles said the company extended help to mall tenants by offering rent discounts during the pandemic.
Road to Recovery
While 2020 was a year of survival and eventual return to normal for Sta. Lucia Realty, Robles hopes that 2021 will then be a year of growth for the company and the country.
“In my opinion, by the year 2021, we will recover. But this depends on the support of the government. It is the government that gives out support like making it easier to obtain permits. Its rules and regulations should really help us developers and other industries affected by the pandemic to recover.”
Nevertheless, Robles looks forward to the year with much optimism.
“We have projects—especially in horizontal developments—in Davao, Digos, Iloilo, Silay, and here in our area. We have a lot of plans. Of course, when we start these projects, we expect them to be successful. We hope they will be successful.”
He goes on. “But of course, we can’t predict luck. Last year, a volcano erupted. There’s this pandemic. There were typhoons. You can’t really tell what’s going to happen. But we [Filipinos] are used to these things. No matter how many crises come our way, we would still keep going.”
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Story originally posted on Power Club.