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It’s either high-rise or a bigger Jerma, councillors told

Developers are giving Marsaskala residents two options with regard to the redevelopment of the Jerma site: either increase the density of the existing building or opt for a 28-storey high-rise development

james
James Debono
26 June 2017, 7:40am
In a clear allusion that land reclamation is being considered he also revealed that barges would be used to construct the high-rise development
In a clear allusion that land reclamation is being considered he also revealed that barges would be used to construct the high-rise development
Developers are giving Marsaskala residents two options with regard to the redevelopment of the Jerma site: either increase the density of the existing building or opt for a 28-storey high-rise development. 

The two options were presented to the council at a meeting between mayor Mario Calleja and the council’s executive secretary and developers Jeffrey Montebello and Charles Camilleri on 15 June.

The developers informed the council that the Planning Authority is considering the two options.

The first option presented to the council will result in the addition of three storeys to the existing building on the site.

Montebello argued that the high-rise option would foresee a public square and open the view to the sea.   

Charles Camilleri, a developer who recently presented an application on the site envisaging both high-rise development and land reclamation, insisted that more open spaces had to be compensated by higher buildings.

Camilleri revealed that he wants to dedicate 50% of the new 28-storey tower to hotel accommodation and the remaining half to apartments. 

He described the high-rise option as being more expensive for the developers but one which would be of greater benefit to the community.  

In a clear allusion that land reclamation is being considered he also revealed that barges would be used to construct the high-rise development. He also insisted that studies have already been made to assess the impact of storms on the proposed development.

The local council was informed of the June 15 meeting last Thursday. 

Commenting on the proposals PN councillor Charlot Cassar described the choice offered as one between over-development of the site and a 28-storey tower. 

“I reiterate what I proposed last year, that the only solution is for the government to buy back the land and turn it into public space.”

Deputy Mayor Desiree Attard told MaltaToday that the council was not present for the meeting with the developers and had only learned of the proposals through the minutes of the meeting.

“I am completely against the development of a 28-storey tower on the site,” she said. “As to the second option, we need to study the plans for the proposed expansion as the number of floors added – be they three or otherwise – is not the only point of contention here.”

Attard said that it was important to take into consideration the type of materials to be used as well as the intended use.

“Until we have details in hand, we cannot know if the building, with the additional three floors, will be a hotel or whether it will incorporate residential development,” she said.

Attard said that, after being informed of the options presented, the councillors had asked for detailed drawings of the proposals.

“To be honest, I am personally hesitant to discuss the options at this stage, when there is still a pending appeal the developers filed on the PA’s decision on the demolition of the existing structure,” she said.

“We need to clear this hurdle before we even start to consider options regarding the proposed development.”

Last year the Planning Authority issued an enforcement notice on the site of the former Jerma Palace Hotel. The authority had noted that this site, in a prominent location, had been left abandoned and in disarray for years, resulting in becoming an injury to amenity.

Subsequently an application was presented by Porto Notos Ltd, a company owned by Charles Camilleri, known as ‘il-Franciz’, and lawyer Pierre Lofaro.  

Apart from the high-rise component the proposal also includes a large lagoon, which will have its own artificial beach and promenade area. A public promenade and commercial development is also proposed all around the reclaimed area. There would be a public park on part of the existing Jerma site and the undeveloped area around San Tumas tower.

james
James Debono is MaltaToday's chief reporter on environment, planning and land use issues, ...
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