Tutuban Mall: A bargain haven with a twist of history
- Rose de la Cruz () - January 21, 2008 - 12:00am

Except for those who have lived to experience the train of the Philippine National Railway (plying north and south of Luzon) in the fifties or sixties, very little is known about this once vital transportation that made the difference in the lives of producers, traders and buyers in Divisoria.

Fortunately, the relic PNR train and the preserved pre-war building of PNR still stand to remind old and future generations of how trade had flourished in the golden days of Divisoria and how it will continue to flourish for generations to come.

“The National Historical Commission actually laid down strict guidelines to the Prime Orion Group—holding company of Tutuban Properties Inc. which developed the now famous Tutuban Mall in Divisoria—to preserve the floors, the high ceilings and the walls and exteriors,” said Ding Espiritu, vice president for sales and marketing at Prime Orion Group.

“We are happy about it because at Tutuban Mall, we do not just satisfy the shopping pleasure of our end users, retailers and wholesalers but we also give all of them a glimpse of history—otherwise available only in museums in other countries,” Espiritu said.

Espiritu, who has had extensive work experience in retail trade from the US and had visited Europe and important trading centers in Asia-— brought 10 years ago to Tutuban Mall the concept of night market and “tiangge right within the mall.” These concepts were readily copied by bigger mall operators.

We provide our shoppers with a number of choices of stores to buy from by giving them tiangge, wholesalers and retailers shops and even night market (open until midnight ).

The fully air-conditioned Tutuban Mall is well-secured and kept clean by a number of security and utility personnel.

The merchandise sold in the different shops, tiangge and night market are a lot better in quality than those sold along the main road of CM Recto Avenue . The prices, however, are a lot more than the prices of goods sold at the sidewalks but a lot less compared to existing malls, tiangge and trade fairs. But shoppers are secured against pickpockets and thieves, Espiritu said.

“This variety of options, of course, eats up on our operational revenues. We are on the red insofar as operating revenues is concerned because of the high cost on common utility (electricity and water), security and wages for allied services like janitorial (CUSA),” Espiritu said.

But the high overhead cost will eventually be covered by better sales revenues and rental income from our tenants because “we have established Tutuban Mall as the preferred and only shopping experience in Divisoria and Manila,” Espiritu said.

Tutuban Mall, developed with a P5 billion seed fund in 1988 by Prime Orion Group, sits on 8.5 hectare “fully-utilized” prime property with another four hectare available for expansion. Currently, the four hectares is being used as terminals for taxis, jeepneys and FX for the convenience of shoppers.

The mall—inaugurated by then President Ramos in 1992—consists of seven buildings namely Central Malls 1 and 2; Cluster Buildings 1 and 2 for wholesalers with 2,100 tenants; Prime Block (for high-end shoppers) and the Robinson’s Department Store (which has a 10-year lease with Tutuban Properties Inc., (which had already been renewed) and the seven-story Parking Tower.

Tutuban Mall has an average foot traffic of 200,000 people a day on weekdays which doubles or reaches 500,000 on weekends, especially during paydays, Espiritu said.

“We always think of the convenience and welfare of our tenants, shoppers and wholesalers in all our programs. After all, ours is not attracting mallers but shoppers,” Espiritu proudly says.

DIVISORIA ESPIRITU MALL PRIME ORION GROUP TUTUBAN TUTUBAN MALL TUTUBAN PROPERTIES INC
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