Updated | Konrad Mizzi to present new Corinthia deal to Parliament

Tourism Minister says consultations with different stakeholders in recent weeks have led to amendments to the controversial deal that will see Corinthia develop a six-star hotel and luxury residences on the St George's Bay peninsula

Corinthia wants to refurbish the San Gorg hotel into a six-star facility and develop luxury apartment blocks on the site
Corinthia wants to refurbish the San Gorg hotel into a six-star facility and develop luxury apartment blocks on the site

Updated at 1.30pm with PN reaction

Tourism Minister Konrad Mizzi has written to Parliament’s National Audit Office Accounts Committee, informing it that he was withdrawing a request for it to approve the transfer of a stretch of land on the St George’s Bay peninsula to the Corinthia Group.

“This is being done in light of the fact that in the coming days a new notice will be presented and subsequently, new documents that reflect various consultation and discussions held, including with [Parliament’s] environment committee," Mizzi said.

Back in December, Mizzi, who is also responsible for Projects Malta, presented the proposed deal to the committee.

The deal is intended to change lease conditions on the land already used by the Corinthia Group so that the company would be able to develop residential blocks. Current lease conditions limit the use of the land for tourism purposes.

The €121 million valuation Corinthia would have to pay to lift the current condition has also been dramatically discounted to €52 million because IHI purchased the neighbouring Radisson Hotel, which it will demolish, as well as for the demolition of the Corinthia Marina Hotel.

Last month Mizzi told MaltaToday that talks were underway with stakeholders that had raised concerns, including the Malta Developers Association, in order to tackle “a number of issues”.

Last week, an anonymous consortium of Maltese businesses with an alleged interest in the ‘Golden Mile’ in Paceville and St George’s Bay wrote to stop the transfer for the 99-year lease. The consortium has argued that the valuation of the land was so far below market price that it constituted state aid.

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

Parliament's NAO accounts committee was scheduled to meet last Monday to continue discussing the Corinthia deal but the meeting was postponed with no date.

On Monday, the environmental aspects of the deal came under scrutiny of Parliament's environment committee. Opposition MPs asked for the deal to be published but Mizzi insisted that talks with Corinthia were ongoing.

Corinthia has ruled out land reclamation and appears to have agreed to a cap on the amount of residential space to be put on the market at one go, in response to market concerns raised by the MDA.

Mizzi had to give in to pressure - PN

The Nationalist Party said Mizzi had no option but to withdraw the contract for the transfer of public land to Corinthia after pressure from the Opposition.

“The Opposition under Adrian Delia has always opposed that public land in such a strategic zone of St Julians be given up on the cheap for speculation when there are people who are homeless,” the PN said in a statement.

The party said it was in favour of tourism-related investment but could not accept the transfer of public land for free.

“The land should continue to be used for tourism purposes to be enjoyed by families and for workers to continue earning a living from tourism,” the PN said.

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