Big business moves in to expand development at Fort Chambray

More hotels, apartments, and residences in the pipeline

 

Aqra dan l-artiklu bil-Malti.

Expansion plans for the further development of Gozo’s historic Fort Chambray have been submitted to the Planning Authority (PA03884/23), as large businesses with strong government links have moved in to build more hotels, apartments and residential units.

While the original project, conceded through a parliamentary concession in the 1990s, has lain dormant for years, The Shift is informed that a group of influential businessmen has come together to invest millions in a new business venture at the spectacular Knights-era fort atop Mgarr harbour.

Through an application fronted by Gozitan businessman Michael Caruana, the official owner of the concession, a revised masterplan, different from that originally approved, is being proposed to turn approximately 37,000 square metres of the fort’s grounds into a 64-suite hotel, 50 serviced apartments, and 105 residential units.

The proposed development, spread over five years of continuous construction, will also see the dismantling of historical buildings within the fort and their reintegration into the project.

The Planning Authority is currently inviting comments and objections from the public and NGOs. If this, proposal is approved, it would result in the development of some 4,500 square metres of new floor space not included in the original master plan.

Who is behind the project?

Calypso Hotel owner Michael Caruana owns the concession and is leading the application. The proposed development appears to be the work of a group of developers and businessmen who have come together to profit from the fort’s development.

These are Francesco Grima, known as il-Gigu, and a close friend of Planning Authority and Gozo Minister Clint Camilleri, Vince Borg of road construction contractors V&C, better known as Censu n-Nizz, Ninu Fenech and his sons from TUM Invest, Oliver Brownrigg of the BT Group and Mario Gauci of Burmarrad Commercials.

While the businessmen have already formed the BBT Gozo Fort Ltd company to lead the still-to-be-approved project, no official announcement has been made that the original concessionaire has passed part of the concession to the new investors.

It is unclear whether Caruana can sell part of the government concession to third parties without a new parliamentary resolution.

When The Shift contacted him last year, Caruana confirmed that he was discussing a possible deal, but no formal agreement had been reached yet.

Meanwhile, according to the minutes of the Ghajnsielem Local Council, Mayor Kevin Cauchi introduced Francesco Grima as “the new developer of Fort Chambray” in a meeting with the council.

A never-ending project

The Knights of St John built Fort Chambray in the early 1700s as a part of Gozo’s defence fortifications. It served as a mental health institution in the 1960s and 1970s before being passed to the Zammit Tabona family before the 1987 elections.

After the Nationalist Party came to power, Fort Chambray Ltd, a Monaco-registered company, was given the site in a 99-year concession. However, the project never got off the ground due to insufficient funds.

In 2004, the government handed the entire project to Gozitan businessman Michael Caruana, who transformed parts of the site into luxury apartments. However, large swathes of the site remain unfinished and are far from completion.

                           

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Susan Howell
Susan Howell
1 month ago

Maybe Francesco Grima is planning on reusing the stone from his illegal Xewkja development seeing as the court has intimated that it should be demolished!!

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