Apartments forming part of Joseph Portelli’s mega-project slated for the former Jerma Hotel site in Marsascala are being marketed for sale online once again, even though the project is still in the “screening process” and without the Planning Authority’s stamp of approval.
An online advertisement on Facebook Marketplace encountered by The Shift follows a similar marketing spree as last year’s when several different property agencies advertised apartments from the still-to-be-approved project.
The Shift has confirmed that J Portelli Projects is in informal talks with the Planning Authority and that the Authority has requested a downsizing of the proposed development for a better chance of approval.
The current publicly available proposal for the site, PA/437/23, would see the demolition of the abandoned Jerma Hotel and the construction of a “mixed-use resort” with two eight-storey blocks with 155 residential units, 258 serviced apartments, a 134-room hotel and a shopping centre.
Last year, The Shift analysed several online adverts with at least four resellers pitching the mixed-use development for sale to early buyers. A Planning Authority proposal had not yet been submitted at the time, and residential units were being marketed at around €300,000 each.
The Shift is now informed that given the downsizing, residential units at the complex are now expected to cost upwards of €400,000. The Planning Authority website shows no such developments concerning the site since March, with an Environmental Impact Assessment and a Case Officer’s report still to be published.
The Jerma Hotel site, now a popular swimming area, was subject to several planning proposals by its previous owners since its abandonment in 2007. The government refused all applications for mixed-use development since the site was historically meant strictly for tourist accommodation.
Following reports in 2019 that Portelli was fronting a group of investors looking to develop the site for a mixed-use development, the proposals were no longer outright rejected.
The Jerma project is far from the first time one of Portelli’s developments was marketed and sold before planning permits were approved or even submitted to the Planning Authority. The Shift has reported similar situations for plots in Qrendi and apartments near Sannat Cliffs in Gozo.
More recently, Portelli’s highly controversial Mercury Towers project in the heart of Paceville was given a massive boost thanks to manoeuvres from Finance Minister Clyde Caruana, who declared it a Special Designated Area (SDA) through a new legal notice, allowing foreigners to buy unlimited amounts of property at the project while benefiting from tax incentives.