Maltese cross into high-rise territory: | Библиотека | Мальта для всех!

Maltese cross into high-rise territory: | Библиотека | Мальта для всех!


Denis Serge

The building frenzy con-tinues at an unrelenting pace in Malta, and nowhere
is it more apparent than in Sliema and St Julian’s. Here, on the island’s
north-east coast, a forest of cranes looms over houses, busy restaurants and
buzzing nightclubs.

Not everyone is very happy about the construction boom, which has seen tower
blocks replace many of the formerly elegant two- or three-storey houses – some
more than 100 years old – that once stood proudly along the twisting, two-mile
coastal Tower Road.

Martin Scicluna, president of non-governmental organisation Din l-Art Helwa,
or «This Fair Land», recently decried «the uglification of Sliema», calling the
new developments «soulless monuments to greed and speculation».

But the towers wouldn’t rise without demand – from foreigners as well as
locals. Following a relative slowdown in the mid to late 1990s, Malta began to
bounce back in 2000, when its stamp duty was reduced from 17 per cent to 5 per
cent. In May this year, it joined the European Union, providing another boost.

«Apartments are in much higher demand than houses,» says Grahame Salt,
director of Frank Salt Real Estate, one of Malta’s leading agencies. «The bigger
the development, the better . . . They have more to offer.» He adds that values
on flats, especially the most upmarket and best located, are rising by about 15
per cent a year.

Choice is plentiful, especially in and around Sliema. One of the most
successful projects in recent years was Portomaso in St Julian’s, by the Tumas
Group. The 128,000 sq m waterside development comprises 330 apartments and 15
penthouses, many overlooking the picturesque yacht marina flanking the Hilton

Here, the choice of property includes one-, two- and three-bedroom units,
some with terraces, as well as larger penthouses. Prices range from LM153,000
(Pounds 244,000) for the cheapest flat with a sea view and rise to
LM500,000-LM750,000 for penthouses, which are sold only in shell form.
Three-quarters of the complex is already spoken for.

Another apartment block rising in Sliema is Tigne Point. Once completed in
2009, it will form part of a large, mixed 50-acre development providing retail
units and office blocks, along with an urban residential element of nearly 500
apartments, including 24 penthouses.

Developed by MIDI, many of the flats will overlook the stunning Sliema Creek
harbour, with prices ranging from LM94,000 to LM820,000 for the most expensive
penthouses with terraces and swimming pools. The first tenants are expected to
move in by 2006.

Meanwhile, away from the hustle and bustle of Sliema and St Julian’s, the
Tumas Group has started building another waterside development, which will be
smaller and less expensive than Portomaso.

Tas-Sellum, or «The Ladder», will include 130 apartments – studios,
three-bedroom flats and 20 penthouses. Situated near Mellieha Bay, in the north
of the island, the five-block development will be built with Malta stone on a
relatively steep slope – hence its name – enabling the rear buildings to enjoy
good sea views. It will also feature terracing, three swimming pools and
underground garages to keep the resort an all-pedestrian environment.

Construction on the first phase, which began earlier this year, is expected
to finish this month, and all 56 apartments have been sold. The second and third
phases will be completed by October 2007.

«The purchasers were a mixture of locals and foreigners, mainly from the UK,»
says sales and marketing director Maurice Tabone.

Britons choose Malta not only for the sun and sea but also because locals are
English-speaking – and friendly, he explains. Other benefits include low taxes
(about 15 per cent), the reduced stamp duty and cheap mortgages.

The last piece of the puzzle is high-quality developments. «We intend to set
high standards at Tas-Sellum,» Tabone says. Prices start at LM50,000 for a
one-bedroom studio providing 50 sq m of space and rise to LM150,000 for a
three-bedroom, 200 sq m unit. Penthouses start at LM290,000.

Financial Times (London, England) December 18, 2004 Saturday