Mercury House: 22-storey block proposed near 32-storey high-rise

The number of apartments on the Mercury House site in Paceville is set to increase from 275 to 363 if new plans submitted by developer Joseph Portelli are approved

Mercury Tower carries the signature of Zaha Hadid Architects
Mercury Tower carries the signature of Zaha Hadid Architects

The number of apartments on the Mercury House site in Paceville – which had been previously zoned for office development – is set to increase from 275 to 363 if new plans submitted by developer Joseph Portelli are approved.

The latest application proposes the erection of a 22-storey multi-purpose block housing 88 residential apartments, hotel rooms, retail shops and offices next to the already approved 31-storey tower which is set to get an extra floor.

Both towers carry the signature of the international Zaha Hadid architect’s firm.

Portelli has also applied to increase the height of the main tower by 8m by adding an amenity floor at level 32, and a bar and swimming pools at roof level.

The first plans for the development included in a dossier that has been distributed to leading real estate agents, already foresaw the development of a neighbouring tower of 25 floors next to a 40-storey high-rise.

But the second tower was omitted when the first application was submitted for the PA’s approval last year.

In fact the high-rise, as approved in January 2018, already included 275 apartments, shops and a 48-room hotel. The development was approved by the Planning Authorith board by 10 votes in favour and three against. The votes against came from PA chairman Vince Cassar, NGOs’ representative Annick Bonello and St Julian’s mayor Guido Dalli.

The site around Mercury House, a Grade 2 scheduled building, was earmarked for development since a development brief approved in 2005, which originally limited the building height to 15 storeys and stipulated that the development on this site should be mainly limited to offices and shops with ‘apartments and penthouses’ limited to the “top floors”.

It was on the basis of this brief that Pender Ville Limited won the 2005 concession for the Pender and Mercury sites for Lm10.6 million (€24 million), seeing off the owners of the St George’s Park site as their main rivals for the concession. An application approved by the PA in 2012 extended this to two adjacent office towers of 19 and 18 floors. This part of the site was later sold to Joseph Portelli.

A proposed masterplan for Paceville proposed in 2016 was aborted after it emerged that consultants Mott Macdonald had also advised Portelli on his project.

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