Proposed Jerma high-rise to include 166 apartments and 250 hotel rooms

The project is set to produce 108,000 cubic meters of construction and demolition waste • Deputy Mayor describes project as the first step towards disfiguring Marsaskala

A render of the proposed development
A render of the proposed development

The demolition and reconstruction of the Jerma Hotel is set to produce 78,000 cubic meters of excavation waste and 30,000 cubic meters of demolition waste.

This emerges from a project development statement (PDS) for the demolition of the existing derelict four-star Jerma hotel and its redevelopment as a high-rise development consisting of 166 apartments and a 250-room hotel.

The development statement was presented on behalf of Porto Notos Ltd, a company owned by developer Charles Camilleri and Pierre Lofaro.

The proposed project includes a high-rise building which will include residential units which spread over 13 floors and a hotel which will rise to 15 floors.

A basement level will include a carpark with 370 spaces and 238 garages, lido facilities, a chapel and a commercial establishment

A business centre is also being proposed on the ground and first floors. The fifteen overlying floors are split between residential units on the east end of the building extending to the first thirteen floors and five-star hotel rooms and serviced apartments on the west end of the building, distributed over the entire fifteen floors of the building.

The developers claim that their ultimate objective is to restore one of the most significant eye-sores of Marsaskala and replace it with a “luxurious development.”

The PDS acknowledges that current policies do not foresee buildings higher than 10 floors in Marsaskala. But they also claim that opting for medium rise buildings would have resulted in taking a significant portion of land within the peninsula.

“The original proposals respected the medium-rise policy that is applicable to Marsaskala – but the scale of the project was too large and created no public open space.”

READ MORE: Marsaskala council disappointed as derelict Jerma still stands

They also exploit a policy loophole. For while the policy regulating high-rise buildings excludes Marsaskala, the policy regulating hotel heights permits four and five star hotels to extend their accommodations to more than two floors over and above the permitted number of floors in the Local Plan.

The area around the St. Thomas Tower is earmarked to as a green park, and be open to the public.

“The area will serve to connect the proposed development to St. Thomas Tower whilst extending and improving the landscaped area around the tower and towards the peninsula”.

The PDS acknowledges that the development will result in the loss of a portion of the existing coastal garigue habitat.

While stating that existing foreshore access will be retained and that the coast will not be privatised, the PDS also refers to the development of a beach lido spanning over 3,000 sq.m which will include a swimming pool, restaurant, café, and changing rooms. The PDS specifies that “the facilities will be open to the public against a fee”.

The development will even include a “triangular shaped” chapel which will also be open to the public. “This design provides the chapel with extensive and uninterrupted views of the surrounding coastline and the sea in three directions.”

Marsaskala deputy mayor and Labour councillor Desiree Attard expressed her disappointment at the way Marsaskala residents were again being “short-changed”.

She described the transfer of land through which the current owners acquired the land in 2007 as “a spectacularly bad deal for citizens”.

“Not only did the current owners get prime real estate for a fraction of its real value, but they also got the land surrounding the historic St Thomas Tower, as well as the public road dividing the two areas,” Attard said.  

She expressed concern at the direct encroachment on the coastline which she described as “a direct breach” of the public’s right of access in the Public Domain Act and a “permanent mutilation of the beautiful, rugged coast which we currently enjoy”.

She also described the high-rise development as “the first step to disfigure our locality into the next Sliema”.

“What Marsaskala needs is a tourist attraction that invigorates our already thriving local economy, while maintaining our unique characteristics, both social and environmental. This proposal achieves neither of these goals, and is yet another boring, unimaginative, short-term cash machine for its owners.”

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