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Condo gets permit to sell units on top 5 floors


MANILA, Philippines—After hurdling two legal obstacles involving its luxury condominium project in Makati City, Century Properties Inc. was granted a permit by the Housing and Land Use Regulatory Board (HLURB) to sell units on the top five floors of its 73-story Gramercy Residences.

In an e-mailed statement, Century Properties said the HLURB issued on May 31 the “amended license to sell” units for the five additional floors of its erstwhile 68-story residential tower on Kalayaan Avenue.

The property developer said it was granted the amended license after complying “with all the necessary permits and plans” regarding the construction of the five additional floors of Gramercy.

“A developer can file for such an amendment with the HLURB after completing construction prerequisites with the Makati City’s Office of the Building Official, the regulatory agency for construction permits,” said Terrie Fucanan-Yu, spokesperson of Century Properties.

Yu said the application for the amended license to sell was filed with the HLURB on July 25, 2012, after Gramercy’s developer, Century City Development Corp., a subsidiary of Century Properties, received an environmental compliance certificate from the Department of Environment and Natural Resources and secured the necessary alteration and amended building permits from the Office of the Building Official.

The HLURB’s granting of the supplementary license to sell came a week after Century Properties scored a double legal victory involving its Gramercy project.

Court decision

On May 23, the Muntinlupa City Regional Trial Court dismissed the petition for mandatory injunction filed by the real estate firm of the AMA Group, Picar Development Inc., against Century Properties in connection with the alleged illegal construction of the five additional floors of Gramercy.

The court denied Picar’s petition “to remove and demolish all floors built in excess of the 68 floors allowed by the relevant building permit” of Gramercy.

In junking Picar’s petition, the court said the real estate firm had resorted to forum shopping when it brought a similar complaint against Century Properties in the Department of Public Works and Highways (DPWH).

DPWH ruling

Three days before the court decision, the DPWH also threw out the complaint that Picar—which is planning to construct a residential building near Century Properties’ condominium project—had filed against the Gramercy owner.

Emmanuel Cuntapay, acting executive director of the DPWH National Building Code Development Office, said he could not act on Picar’s request that his office investigate alleged irregularities surrounding Makati City’s issuance of permits for the construction of the five additional floors of Gramercy.

Cuntapay said his office “had been divested of administrative supervision” over local building officials with the passage of Republic Act No. 7160, or the Local Government Code of 1991.

Picar complained that Century Properties had failed to secure the necessary government permits before it built the five additional floors of Gramercy. Picar also said there was no indication that the Makati City building official had inspected the Gramercy project to ensure its compliance with the National Building Code.

In a letter to Cuntapay’s office, however, Makati City legal officer Armando Fabio Jr. said the amended building permit was given to Century Properties “after proper evaluation and assessment of all documents, plans and specifications…and after thorough inspection of the building.”

Motion for reconsideration

While Picar was silent on the DPWH ruling, the real estate arm of the AMA Group said it had filed a motion for reconsideration in connection with the decision of Muntinlupa RTC Judge Leandro Catalo.

In its June 10 filing, Picar branded Catalo’s decision as a “corrupt order” and asked the court to “set aside its order dated May 23 or declare it as void ab initio.”

Picar also reiterated its request that the judge inhibit himself from the case. The company filed an administrative complaint against the judge on May 10.

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