Paul Attard, the secretary general of the Malta Developers Association (MDA), better known for his role in development company GAP, has moved onto the second phase of his plan to build a massive block of apartments in a public green lung in Mellieha.
The parcel of land in Mellieha Heights has remained undeveloped through various administrations over the last 30 years. Attard acquired a chunk of it from the Lands Authority in questionable circumstances. But with a tiny sliver of the land remaining out of his reach due to the unknown owners, he could not move on with his multi-million-euro project.
Through a public notice, Attard’s architect, Joseph Bondin – also a shareholder in Joseph Portelli’s illegal hotel in Mellieha – gave the unknown owners of the small portion of land, now adjacent to Attard’s, 15 days to identify themselves.
According to the notice published in the media, Attard advised his intention to “submit a planning application to the Planning Authority” and that his attempts to trace the owners of the remaining plot, which is not in his portfolio, have drawn a blank.
According to a legal notice, once the 15 days from this advert ends, Attard can ask the PA to proceed with his development application even on the part of the land that is not his.
Through a company, T&S Properties Holdings Ltd formed a few years ago together with Paul Vella, another developer from Mgarr known as Tal-Ballut, Attard ‘won’ a tender issued by the Lands Authority for the sale of the 4,000 square metres green lung in the area known as ‘Il-Qortin’ in Mellieha.
The tender was designed specifically for Attard’s company, as a clause on the right of first refusal was inserted in the conditions, giving Attard the option to match any other competitive offer received by the Lands Authority.
Attard obtained this following the purchase of a small fraction of the large plot from another developer just a few years ago, The Shift has revealed.
The Planning Authority had shot down the previous owners’ development application to turn his small portion of real estate into six apartments and a penthouse.
It is not yet known what position the Planning Authority is going to take and how planning laws are going to be interpreted once Attard and his partner submit their new application to turn the entire plot into tens of flats.
Victor Bonello, the previous owner, sold his fraction of the land to Attard after giving up on the chance of being given a permit to build on his land, an obstacle Attard somehow did not face.
Estimated by property dealers at a current market value of €12 million, the Lands Authority sold it to Attard’s company for just €400,000 a year over 15 years.
Other conditions to facilitate his business deal include that after 15 years of paying in instalments while developing the plot, the new property owners – individual flat owners – can redeem the title in perpetuity.
This results in a massive bargain for Attard and his partner and an opportunity to make millions of euros from public land.
The Shift has revealed that during the ongoing process and before, Attard was renting out a small flat in Luqa to Lands Minister Silvio Schembri to use as his constituency office.
Schembri rebutted any connection and said he was paying rent on the flat and would be publishing receipts. This has not happened.