Estate agents have started to market a planned development of over 400 luxury apartments at Smart City, even before planning permission has been granted.

It appears the large tract of public land given over for the development of an ICT city in Kalkara in 2007 is set to become yet another high-end residential enclave, with estate agents given the green light to start selling the apartments at €3,500 per square metre.

According to adverts placed by estate agents on their websites, the development will consist of 411 high-end residences spread on 11 storeys surrounded by landscaping, restaurants and all necessary amenities.

“Exclusive to the residents, one finds a large pool called the Laguna and a health club with its own pool,” the adverts state.

The marketing messages inviting interested buyers for a private presentation of the project state that the large one, two and three bedroom apartments and ‘sky villas’ will have unobstructed sea views.

Real estate agents who spoke to this newspaper said the project has no development permits yet.

“We were assured that the permits are just a formality as the people involved in this project are very well connected,” an established estate agent said.

Asked how the apartments are already on sale when the project has not even been launched yet, another estate agent said this was not the first time something of the sort had happened.

“Apparently the developers are adopting the same model already adopted by the owners of the Seabank Group when they took over the ITS site in Pembroke recently. They are selling on plan.

“Interestingly we have not been given any plans yet but we were told to start selling at €3,500 per square metre. Probably they are trying to finance the project this way,” the agent said.

Planning Authority sources confirmed that an application was submitted by Ricasoli Properties Ltd last February for the building of the residential complex at Smart City.

“The application is in its very early stages and we have not even set a date for when it will be discussed. As with all other permits, there is no guarantee that the permit will be approved,” a source said.

This newspaper has learned that the man fronting the development is Steve Carter, who some years ago was also involved in the development of a specialised private hospital in Smart City which was meant to start offering a service this year. The building of the hospital has not yet started.

In 2007, the public land at Kalkara measuring some 316,000 square metres was given to Smart City Malta Ltd for 99 years for the development of an ICT village. The shareholders, the largest being a Dubai-based company, were obliged to create some 5,600 jobs and invest over €300 million. This has not happened.

This newspaper is informed that the new residential development will not be carried out by Smart City but by private developers who bought the land from Smart City.

According to the deed signed by the then Nationalist government and Smart City Malta Ltd, and approved unanimously by Parliament, transfers of land can be permitted as long as the scope of the project – an ICT village – is maintained.

The Maltese government has a 10 per cent shareholding in Smart City and is currently represented on the board of directors by Keith Schembri, the Prime Minister’s chief of staff. Mr Schembri is under magisterial investigation following claims of money laundering.

During Labour’s first legislature, a number of government entities relocated their headquarters to Smart City, including the Malta Tourism Authority and the Malta Gaming Authority.

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