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Polo plans to move to its own offices in United Centre

02 August 2020

By Vir B. Lumicao


Polo would be lucky to move back to United Centre, which is at the heart of HK's business district

Filipino workers will not have to go to a separate building in another district for their labor-related transactions, when the Philippine Overseas Labor Office will have moved back to United Centre in Admiralty in the near future.

Sources say that Polo is planning to move back to United Centre, occupying a whole floor in the office tower that houses the Consulate, hopefully within the year.

They say that Polo has already chosen one particularly floor several levels above the PCG, which owns its premises on the 14th floor of the building, but a deal has yet to be firmed up with the landlord. 


PINDUTIN PARA SA DETALYE

The proposed move would likely be welcomed by overseas Filipino workers, who will be able to process their employment documents in one building, just as they did in the past when Polo had its own rent-free space in the Consulate.

Right now, they need to shuttle between the Consulate premises in Admiralty and the Polo office at the YF Life Tower in Wanchai, when transacting business.

This was not the case before December 2015, when Polo occupied the entire right wing of the Consulate premises.
But with the rapid increase in the number of Filipino domestic workers coming to Hong Kong, this set-up often resulted to an overflow crowd in the lift lobby, especially during peak times, for the issuance of the overseas employment certificate.

Former Labor Attache Bernardino Julve found a way out of this by moving the OEC issuance to the spacious Bayanihan Centre in Kennedy Town.

But in 2015, just months before his recall to Manila, then Polo chief Manuel Roldan decided to end the Bayanihan deal, and recommended to the home office that Polo move to its own offices in the adjacent Admiralty Centre.

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Polo stayed there for just two years, because management reportedly demanded a hefty increase to the rental price, which at that time, was already around $500,000.

Coupled with the strict, even hostile, handling of the Sunday crowd of people going up to Polo by the building’s security guards, Labatt Jalilo dela Torre decided it was time to move again. He settled on YF Life Tower (formerly Mass Mutual Tower) because it reportedly gave the best deal, even if it was a few blocks away from United Centre.

Polo’s two-year lease at YF Life should have expired last year, but it has apparently managed to extend the tenancy for another year.

Pindutin para sa detalye

The source said the return to United Centre could mean savings for Polo, which is currently sharing the $500,000 monthly rent for its offices on the 16th and 18th floors of YF Life with the Overseas Workers Welfare Administration.

Besides, the landlord at YF Life Tower reportedly wants to raise the rent under a new lease contract and is asking for a three-month rental deposit.
 
YF Life Tower where Polo currently has its offices, is several blocks away from United  Centre
“The United Centre location will be better than this one because all our offices will be on just one floor,” the source said.

Needless to say, the move will also be convenient for the more than 200,000 OFWs who will be transacting business at the Consulate and Polo/OWWA offices.


Unlike YF Life where OFWs are forced to line up outside the building even in harsh weather, United Centre is able to accommodate a big number of people queuing up to its office towers because of its spacious lobby.

But there is just one catch. The current rental for office space in United Centre, which is considered grade A given its proximity to key places like the Central Government Offices, is at least $42 psf, even with the downturn due to the pandemic.

An entire floor in the building measures more than 20,000 square feet, meaning the rent would come up to at least $840,000 a month. If Polo clinches a deal less than this current market rate, then it is indeed, well-advised to make the move.
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