Residential units, hotel and yacht marina eyed at former Jerma site

Construction developers Peter and Geoffrey Montebello with plans to develop former Jerma Hotel, with contractor Charles Camilleri fronting the company despite not being the owner 

The proposed design for a new five-star hotel and residential units presented by the Montebello Brothers in 2009
The proposed design for a new five-star hotel and residential units presented by the Montebello Brothers in 2009

Two of the three Montebello brothers plan on redeveloping the former Jerma Palace Hotel site through the development of residential units, a five-star hotel and a yacht marina, MaltaToday has learnt.

Although the plans are still at their preliminary stages, MaltaToday is informed that brothers Geoffrey and Peter Montebello, are looking at developing the site with contractor Charles Camilleri, known as 'il-Franciz', fronting the company's plans.

Repeated attempts to contact Camilleri and Peter Montebello proved futile.

What MaltaToday could establish so far is that the residential aspect of the project would see the development of between 300 and 500 units, will include a hotel and it proposes land reclamation for a yacht marina.

The proposed development of the American University of Malta at Zonqor Point has refuelled developers’ interests in the area. But the redevelopment of the derelict and abandoned Jerma Palace Hotel is hampered by third-party claims as the Montebello brothers still have to settle outstanding claims from an accountant who demanded €3.5 million for his services to the Montebellos. The accountant was granted a precautionary warrant in court to stop the sale of the Jerma Palace Hotel and the surrounding land.

The land on which the Jerma Palace Hotel was built originally belonged to the Franciscan Conventuals and Ivan Burridge, and was sold to San Tumas Holdings, which in turn sold it to the Libyan Lafico in 1976. Corinthia used to manage the hotel through a management agreement.  

The hotel was never developed since closing down in the 2000s and then sold to JPM Brothers. At some point in 2009, the Tumas and Gasan groups were seeking advice on transforming the Jerma Palace Hotel into a potential ‘Portomaso of the south’, when JPM Brothers were hoping for an urgent sale of the property to settle outstanding loans with banks and creditors.

The application was passed to a case officer to assess the development proposal in terms of the Structure Plan and other established policies. 

Financial trouble forced the Montebellos to search for buyers for the site, namely the late magnate George Fenech and Joe Gasan. The plan never materialised: a MEPA policy undertaken by former chairman Austin Walker was that hotel development should not be turned into residential development, but kept as tourist accommodation and hotels.

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