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Subic Bay Metropolitan Authority (MPD-SBMA)

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07 November 2008

SBMA, Zambales LGU endorse Neo-Cove resort project in Subic

Officials of the Subic Bay Metropolitan Authority (SBMA) and the province of Zambales have given their unqualified support to a proposal by a Korean-led consortium to build a high-end leisure facility at Subic's Cawag area, a short distance from the Hanjin shipyard.

In a meeting with project proponents on Tuesday, SBMA Chairman Feliciano Salonga and SBMA Administrator Armand Arreza said that the agency "stands solidly behind the resort project," which is billed to be the largest master-planned community in Asia.

"The next step now is to break ground," Arreza suggested, pointing out that the SBMA has already worked out the inclusion of the project site with the Subic Bay Freeport.

Zambales Gov. Amor Deloso, for his part, gave the assurance that the project would not meet resistance from the local community.

"This project is good for the local economy and for the tourism industry of Zambales. It will also generate some 10,000 jobs," he said.

"There will be no problem with the people at the site," he added, saying that the project has been formally approved by the Zambales provincial board recently.

The resort project will incorporate hotel and vacation complexes, a 54-hole golf course and leisure-sports facilities, an eco-park, spa and therapy centers, as well as an international hospital and an international school.

Youn Jae Lee, chairman of the Heung-A Property Group (HAPG) of Korea, said his company is combining resources with Westgate Resorts Asia Ltd. and the Trump Organization "in exploring various real estate opportunities in Asia."

The consortium's initial project will be the $250-million integrated leisure, sports and entertainment facility to be built at a 457-hectare beachfront property in Subic, he added.

But a representative of Imagine Realty Corporation, a firm headed by former peace adviser Roberto Aventajado, said the Subic resort development will be made in several phases and will eventually be worth around $1 billion.

The first phase will be undertaken from 2008 to 2010, and the second from 2010 to 2011, he added.

In the same meeting, Trump executive vice president Michael Cohen said his firm has already signed a letter of intent with CIG, one of the Korean partner-firms for the Subic Neo Cove project.

With the entry of Trump, Cohen added, the Subic project would have "the finest quality resort and golf course anywhere in the (Asian) region."

Mark Waltrip, chief operating officer of Westgate, meanwhile said that his firm's involvement would ensure that the project would be fully integrated with local culture — a mark, he said, of Westgate, which operates the largest chain of family-oriented resorts in the United States today.

HAPG chairman Youn Jae Lee, on the other hand, noted that the Subic Freeport has "wonderful infrastructure" already in place. But with the planned resort project, there would be better opportunities for the business community in Subic, he added.

HAPG is said to be one of Korea's progressive conglomerates with interests in real estate, shipping, and logistics. It will undertake the Subic report project through its wholly-owned subsidiary, the Subic Neo Cove Corporation. (SBMA Corporate Communications)

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