Mercury House high-rise will have 435 apartments with second tower

A second, 19-storey tower over the former telephone exchange in Paceville is set to increase Mercury House’s total apartments from 275 to 435

Visual impact of the DB and Mercury House projects as viewed from Valletta
Visual impact of the DB and Mercury House projects as viewed from Valletta

The addition of a second, 19-storey tower over the former telephone exchange in Paceville is set to increase Mercury House’s total apartments from 275 to 435.

The already-approved 31-storey tower designed by Zaha Hadid Architects, will also increase by 8.4m to accommodate an additional residential floor, a services floor and a roof bar.

The whole project will now include 131 hotel rooms, 683 parking spaces and over 6,400sq.m of commercial space.

The second tower was reduced slightly from the 23 floors foreseen in initial plans to 19, to mitigate its visual impact.

When it comes into operation, the Mercury House development will only employ approximately 80 full-time employees.

The original development brief approved in 2005 had originally limited the height to 15 storeys, limiting its use to offices and shops, and top-floor apartments and penthouses.  It was on the basis of this brief that Pender Ville Ltd originally won the 2005 concession for both the Pender Place and Mercury House sites for Lm10.6 million (€24 million), seeing off the owners of St George’s Park as their main rivals for the concession.

But in 2012, the Planning Authority allowed its extension to two adjacent office towers of 19 and 18 floors. When Pender Ville sold Mercury House to Gozitan developer Joseph Portelli, the latter applied for a permit to build a 31-storey high-rise.

The second phase of the project will now add retail outlets to the lower floors of the Go telephone exchange building, and residential units for the upper floors.

Visuals from the yet-to-be-approved hotel and high-rise project at St George’s Bay by the DB group have been inserted in studies assessing cumulative visual impact of Mercury’s second tower.

The Environment Impact Assessment concludes that Mercury House’s visual impact will be lower due to the “presence of other high-rise buildings permitted in the area”.

The splitting of the planning application in two ensured that studies undertaken for the first part of the development would not require air quality studies by proposing a project that generates an increase 1,000 daily car trips.

The entire high-rise project will consume approximately 7,000MWh of energy every year, amounting to 0.3% of total electricity Malta generated in 2017. The energy consumed by the building is the equivalent of that consumed by 1600 people.

The latest addition is envisaged to have a consumption of 3,500MWh in annual energy, while the project will produce 54,000 cubic metres of construction waste.

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