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Portal East to replace SU Coop building

The Silliman University Community Cooperative (SUCC) building is now under construction near Gate 7 along North Road. It will soon house the SU Coop store. PHOTO BY Nelly Mae Dableo

ON THE RISE. The Silliman University Community Cooperative (SUCC) building is now under construction near Gate 7 along North Road. It will soon house the SU Coop store. PHOTO BY Nelly Mae Dableo

After almost 80 years at the corner of Hibbard and Silliman Avenue, the Silliman University Cooperative (SU Coop) will be transferred. The building it will vacate will be replaced by Portal East. SU Coop is a non-university unit store which sells goods and products as additional revenue for the SU students and personnel who are its members. The cooperative will rent space at the new Silliman University Community Cooperative (SUCC) building being constructed near Gate 7 along North Road.

SU Coop concerns

Roberto Estoconing, manager of SU Coop, said that they are worried about the possible decrease of customers due to the change in location.

He also pointed out that the space given to the Coop in the SUCC building was not big enough. “We are not happy with the transfer of our location because the space is too small,” Estoconing said.

He added that the support of the university was “really not that equitable.”

Mark Raygan Garcia, director of the Office of Information and Publications (OIP), clarified that the transfer of SU Coop does not imply that the university “does not support the cooperative.”

“The construction of Portal East is one of the ways of the university in addressing the drastic decline of enrollment in 2016,” said Garcia.

“[Although] Coop is renting the space [at its present location]…we also have to weigh which will benefit the university more. And it is in the benefit of the university to push through [with] the construction of Portal East,” Garcia added.

Portal East construction

According to Dr. Ben Malayang III, SU president, the Portal East construction has been planned a long time ago.

“It has long been decided by the board to construct Portal buildings— the Portal West and the Portal East. Portal West was just constructed earlier,” Pres. Malayang said.

Portal East will be a 4-storey commercial building. Businesses can rent spaces inside Portal East, like its counterpart, Portal West, which was built in 2008.

“We are talking to certain entities who are interested in putting up [their business] in the building. We will make an agreement with them and use their advance payment for the construction,” Pres. Malayang said.

Pres. Malayang said that the university will construct new facilities which would generate income for itself without spending a lot from its own money.

“Whatever money we have now will be utilized as reserve for deflated reserves by the time that there will be no more students,” Pres. Malayang added.

Moreover, Pres. Malayang explained that the SUCC was allowed to rent a lot to construct their building along North Road. After 15 years, the university will own the building.

“The purpose of putting up these income-generating facilities is to support scholarships as well as other expenses of the university. This is to continue to prepare for 2020 when more students will be enrolled,” he added.

SU Coop strategies

Despite the fear of low revenues at the new location, Estoconing said that SU Coop plans to find alternatives in order to attract new customers in the area.

“We intend to develop the outside area for food operations and we will put our dry goods inside the store. But even then, the size there is not even one-fourth of [what] we are occupying now,” he added

Portal East approval

Garcia, on the other hand, said that the construction of Portal East was already approved by the National Historical Institute (NHI) which acknowledged that the area from the SU Coop to the President’s House is part of the commercial area of the university.

Groundbreaking for Portal East is scheduled next month while construction will start at the end of the year or early 2015.

By DM Lorena Narciso and Stephanie Ria Colinco

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