Corinthia hits back at ‘misleading’ visuals

The Corinthia Group says visuals published by MaltaToday are ‘fictitious and misleading’ • MaltaToday defends visuals based on a masterplan drawn up by the company itself

A visual provided by the Corinthia Group that shows only phase one of the project it plans to carry out on the peninsula at St George's Bay
A visual provided by the Corinthia Group that shows only phase one of the project it plans to carry out on the peninsula at St George's Bay

The Corinthia Group has hit out at visuals published by MaltaToday of its proposed project in St George’s Bay, describing them as “fictitious and misleading”.

The company insisted that so far, it could only provide visuals related to first phase of the project, which according to the agreement with the government covers 15% of the development. The visual provided by the company is being published above.

MaltaToday defends its visuals, which were based on a draft masterplan presented by the Corinthia Group in meetings with stakeholders (See editorial note below).

The visuals of how the full-scale Corinthia project will look were published by MaltaToday and TVM programme Xtra. They showed the full extent of the development with 12 high and medium rise blocks surrounding the San Gorg Hotel.

The first phase of the project includes the refurbishment of the San Gorg Corinthia Hotel into a six-star complex and the construction of two residential blocks. However, the masterplan includes 12, high and medium rise blocks ranging in height between eight and 21 floors.

READ ALSO: Corinthia project will replace hotels with 12 tower blocks

Two 15-floor residential blocks in first phase

In their reaction, the Corinthia Group insisted that the only architectural plans available as yet relate to phase one of the project and these still had to be discussed with the relevant regulatory and planning authorities in due course.

“Our aim in this first phase is to entirely redevelop the Corinthia Hotel into Malta’s foremost luxury property together with extensive landscaped gardens and amenities,” the group said.

It added that the first phase will also include two luxury serviced residential blocks, the highest of which is being proposed to be 15 floors, on land located between the current Corinthia and the Radisson Hotel.

“What will happen beyond [this phase] will depend on many factors, including economic viability, planning considerations, and so much more, but above all, a commitment of ensuring a beautiful development supporting our new Corinthia hotel,” the company said.

While acknowledging that the visual impression published by Corinthia did not take into account further development proposed after the first phase of the project, the company insisted the visual published by MaltaToday “does not represent our plans, or our track record in developing landmark, balanced projects in Malta and overseas”.

The company insisted that the visual published by the newspaper “cannot serve as a reference for an informed debate”.

Agreement ‘limits’ residential development 

Corinthia said current zoning policies for the entire peninsula entitled it to develop approximately 250,000sq.m. of floor space for tourism purposes.

The land is currently leased to the company for tourism purposes, which means that parliamentary approval is required for a new lease agreement that will also allow residential and commercial development.

Corinthia said the proposed agreement with government allowing them to develop 100,000sq.m. of residential and office development in the area covered solely contractual terms for “the restatement” of the company’s existing ownership rights to the land.

“The agreement actually limits us to potentially developing a maximum of 100,000sq.m. of commercial and residential areas, besides an obligation to develop two new luxury hotels,” the company said.

It also emphasized that the contract with government did not make any reference to architecture plans. “These will be developed over the years to come in a series of phases and subject always to planning rules and consent.”

75% of land will remain open

The company said “a draft layout masterplan” was included in the proposed agreement that shows how “the vast majority (75%) of the land will remain open and landscaped”.

Corinthia said this demonstrated its intentions to maintain “a balanced, holistic environment to our proposed luxury hotels and serviced residences”.  

The company said its aim remained that of achieving “a very unique upscale six-star development” in line with “a track record over 60 years in business”.

The company also excluded any intention of pursuing land reclamation in the coastal area adjacent to the project. 

“We understand the proposed clause in our draft agreement is standard to similar agreements across Malta,” the statement read.

 

EDITORIAL NOTE

The visual impression published on Sunday in MaltaToday was prepared by an architect and based on a draft masterplan presented by the Corinthia Group to stakeholders.

The visual impression factored in the number of floors envisaged for 12 different blocks proposed in different areas of the project as identified in the masterplan.

A copy of the masterplan was also published on Sunday and is being reproduced below. The masterplan was not released to the public by Corinthia but only used during meetings with stakeholders.

The Corinthia master plan discussed with stakeholders, showing 12 residential blocks
The Corinthia master plan discussed with stakeholders, showing 12 residential blocks

Corinthia Group insists that so far, architectural plans have been prepared for phase one of the project. MaltaToday has invited Corinthia to provide it with photomontages for the whole project. 

The deed specifies that Corinthia are under no obligation to carry out the project in one single phase but the company will have to apply for the other phases of the project within a 10-year timeframe.

MaltaToday cannot understand what was “misleading” about the photomontages it published in the absence of a similar exercise undertaken by the Corinthia Group for the whole site.

While MaltaToday agrees with Corinthia on the importance of an “informed public debate”, this would be better served if the same group published all available information including the masterplan for the whole site, clearly showing the number of storeys for each of the proposed blocks.

READ ALSO: Graffitti slam Corinthia deal as another land grab

More in National