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Underground car park is proposed for Spinola

Privately financed scheme could ease parking issues without spoiling area

A four-storey underground car park is being proposed for Spinola to alleviate parking problems and traffic congestion without using taxpayer’s money.

Since it will only be full during weekends, other income is crucial to making the project sustainable

Unlike the €7 million car park proposed for the Sliema Ferries, which will partly be funded by the planning authority’s Commuted Parking Payment Scheme, the Spinola car park will be self-funded through private enterprise.

The site has already been earmarked for a car park in the 2006 local plan and will be crucial for the Spinola area once the Government fulfils its plans to pedestrianise the area.

Architect Ray DeMicoli, spearheading the consortium Equinox Ventures Ltd, says the project will incorporate a supermarket, office and retail spaces, as well as 22 residential units.

It will be situated adjacent to the St Julian’s parish church.

Since studies have shown the car park will only be full during weekends, the other income is crucial to making the project sustainable, according to Mr DeMicoli.

The development, which has yet to be given the planning authority’s approval, will retain the green character of the as yet undeveloped area through a series of terraces full of vegetation.

According to the plans, there will be more trees than currently exist on the abandoned land and all of the carob and olive trees will be transplanted and retained.

The roof will be turned into a lawn not to spoil the views of overlying apartments and to act as insulation.

Mr DeMicoli says the project is intended to contribute to the community rather than create more problems for an area that already suffers from heavy congestion and poor traffic management.

Each floor will be terraced backwards and the whole development will be kept much lower than allowed by planning regulations so as not to block the views of residents living behind the site on Lapsi Street.

Cars will only be able to access the 433-space car park from the main road (Mikiel Ang. Borg Street), in line with the current traffic flow, but a series of lifts and paths will also facilitate access for pedestrians wanting to walk to the Church or the piazza.

Meanwhile, sophisticated air vents will push car fumes to the main road rather than residential spaces and the rock that is excavated will be recycled into concrete aggregate, partly used to build the same area.

Mr De Micoli says the project will also contribute to a number of the country’s objectives regarding tourism and business.

“Spinola is bustling with activity. Restaurants and hotels are full, apartments are immediately rented out at high prices and office space is very difficult to come by,” he says, pointing out that the idea for the project came from his own firm’s need to find larger premises.

Mr DeMicoli, whose portfolio includes Portomaso, says he intends to maintain good neighbourly relations and is already working overtime to convince sceptical residents that they too stand to gain from this project.

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