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Fort Chambray Phase 3 finally in sight

The third and last phase of the Fort Chambray project could finally get going, bringing a critical mass to this upmarket development which will benefit the existing phases.

The permits for the last phase – which will occupy over half the 18th century fort built by Count François Chambray – should be issued by Mepa by the end of the year. The half-constructed buildings on the area, abandoned for the past decade, will have to be demolished, to be replaced by a mix of apartments and villas. A boutique hotel will flank the upmarket commercial and retail centre in the old barracks.

The Knights had dreams of turning Fort Chambray into the new citadel for Gozo. These never materialised – and the jinx on this prime site seems to have persisted into the 20th century. The Nationalist government of the 1960s wanted to develop the fort as a tourist zone but the 1971 Labour government did not adopt its plans.

It was transferred to the Zammit Tabona family for development in the late 1980s but a permit was only issued in the 1990s, to a company whose majority shareholder was Italian Roberto Memmo.

The project languished in spite of subsequent Maltese investment and numerous changes in shareholding. Things finally started moving in 2004 when then Minister Austin Gatt handed over the entire project to Gozitan businessman Michael Caruana, against a premium and annual rent.

The business model has obviously changed considerably since TBA Periti prepared the submissions for the original plans in 1993.

Phase 1 and 2 involved the construction of apartments and villas, ranging in price from around €150,000 to €1.5 million, as well as a large communal swimming pool. Some 65 per cent have been sold and there is now renewed interest from Maltese who realise that foreigners – especially from outside the EU – will once again start to consider investing in real estate now the Global Residency Scheme has been introduced.

Dr Caruana is now focusing on the hotel, currently envisaging a 100-room boutique hotel, which would be at least a five-star but possibly six-star.

However, he said that he is in discussions with various international chains, as he believes that it is important for the hotel to be branded, which means that he is still open to suggestions.

“Once we decide which international partner to work with, it will then be up to them to decide what they want as they may decide to go for a resort or a larger hotel.

“Once this decision has been taken, we will then be able to decide how many apartments and villas to build in Phase 3,” he said.

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