The Jerma Palace Hotel is a former four-star hotel in Marsaskala, Malta. It was opened as a Libyan investment in 1982, and was managed by Corinthia Hotels International. It was the largest hotel in southern Malta until it closed down in 2007. The building was subsequently abandoned, and it has since fallen into a state of disrepair. Plans to demolish the former hotel began in 2016.

Jerma Palace Hotel
Jerma Palace Hotel in 2005
Map
Alternative namesCorinthia Jerma Palace Hotel
General information
StatusRuins
TypeHotel
LocationMarsaskala, Malta
Coordinates35°51′40″N 14°34′25″E / 35.86111°N 14.57361°E / 35.86111; 14.57361
Named forJer-ma; Jamahiriya-Malta[citation needed]
Opened1982
ClosedMarch 2007
OwnerJefpet Limited
Technical details
MaterialLimestone
Grounds38,745 m2 (417,050 sq ft)
Design and construction
Architect(s)Roger Westman
Other information
Number of rooms345

History edit

Jerma Palace Hotel (1982-2007) edit

The Jerma Palace Hotel was built on a headland called il-Ħamrija, close to the 17th-century Saint Thomas Tower. The land originally belonged to Franciscan Conventuals and Ivan Burridge, who sold it to San Tumas Holdings. In 1976, San Tumas sold the plot to the Libyan Foreign Investment Company. The Jerma Palace Hotel was subsequently built, and it was opened in 1982. The hotel was managed by Corinthia Hotels International through a management agreement.[1] Libyan dictator Muammar Gaddafi had a presidential suite within the hotel.[2] A 1982 parliamentary resolution decreed that the area could only be developed for touristic purposes.[3]

 
The abandoned Jerma Palace Hotel in 2016

The Jerma Palace was the largest hotel in the south of Malta,[4] and its opening contributed to transforming Marsaskala from a traditional fishing village to a small resort.[5]

Dereliction of the former hotel site edit

The hotel closed down in March 2007,[4] and is now in a derelict state, with parts of it having collapsed and others being in danger of collapsing. Its interior has been stripped of everything of value, with carpets, marble floors, doors, tiles and even bricks being stolen. The walls are covered in graffiti.[4] The building is occupied by squatters, and it is popular with drug addicts.[6] The former hotel also became an illegal dumping ground, with people disposing of their garbage there.[7] Rubbish left at the hotel caused a number of fires.[8]

Redevelopment projects edit

In July 2008 the Jerma Palace was sold for €18.6 million to the brothers Jeffrey and Peter Montebello (Jefpet Limited, JPM Construction), who planned to transform the former hotel into apartments, a 5-star hotel and a yacht marina.[1] However, then Prime Minister Lawrence Gonzi stated that only a hotel, and not apartments, could be developed on the site, since the 2006 local plan had identified the site to be mainly used for tourist accommodation.[9] JPM also faced a massive €40 million loan call-in which forced them to scale down their ambitions.[10] In July 2015 the Marsaskala local council also wrote to the Planning Authority that “the council is opposed to any application which includes the development of apartments”.[11]

 
Ruins of the hotel with Saint Thomas Tower to the right, as seen in 2016

Following a request by the Marsaskala Local Council[12] and the issue of an enforcement notice,[13] on 20 August 2016 the Planning Authority ordered the hotel's owners to demolish the building.[7] On that same day, the building caught fire, which was put out by the Civil Protection Department.[8] The Jerma Palace, which had been valued at €20.8 million, was to be sold at a judicial auction in October 2016. The demolition of the dilapidated hotel buildings was to cost around €1.5 million.[14] The same year, PN local councillor Charlot Cassar suggested that the site be bought by the Maltese government and turned into an open space for public enjoyment. In September 2016 the owners appealed against an enforcement order by the Planning Authority.[11] In May 2018, the Environment and Planning Review Tribunal upheld an appeal and annulled the demolition order.[15]

In 2016, the new owner, developer Charles Camilleri through his company Porto Notos Ltd (co-owned with lawyer Pierre Lofaro[10]) applied to demolish the former hotel and replace it with a massive development of two high-rise residential towers of 44 and 32 storeys, and a 22-storey hotel on reclaimed land in the vicinity.[11] The "three towers" proposal was later downscaled to units of 12 and 13 storeys, including an apartment complex;[9] in December 2017 the Marsaskala local council, including Labour Mayor Mario Calleja, voted overwhelmingly in favour of this new project, in contradiction with the same local council's July 2015 position. The development would have had a 7,000 square metre footprint with a floor area of 61,000 square metres, as well as a 10,500 square metre public park around Saint Thomas Tower. The proposal had not been submitted to planning process, so no environmental impact assessment was prepared.[11]

The project was withdrawn after Camilleri had sold the site to Gozitan property magnate Joseph Portelli for €90 million in summer 2019.[9] A development brief approved by the Maltese government in early 2020, in the last days of the Joseph Muscat administration, permitted development over a staggering 100,000 square meters, 40% of which for apartments. A second development brief approved by the Robert Abela government in August 2020 downscaled the total investment to 65,000 square meters and a development of up to 8 storeys including for residential use, doubling the footprint of the estate from the current 8,700 to 17,700 square metres.[10][16] In June 2020, Marsascala local council voted in favour of a 13-storey building on the side. Seven NGOs initiated legal action against the decision, deeming that the Planning Authority had "arbitrarily increased the area of the development brief".[17]Moviment Graffitti denounced the risk of further congestion in the area and the lack of respect for a historic site like Saint Thomas Tower.[3]

Portelli has not yet filed an application with specific plans and designs with the Planning Authority, but has stated that he intends to develop on site a complex of 130 apartments, a 500-room hotel and a public square in front of Saint Thomas Tower.[9][18] The Greens have called for the government to revise their plans.[19] The Malta Chamber of Commerce also called on the government to stop new applications, given the oversupply in hotel beds.[20]

Cultural references edit

In March 2020, the music video for All of my Love, the Maltese 2020 Eurovision Song Contest entry, was filmed onsite.[21] In 2021, the Jerma Palace was shown as a fictive alien architectural background in the Foundation series.[22]

References edit

  1. ^ a b Dalli, Miriam (21 May 2015). "Residential units, hotel and yacht marina eyed at former Jerma site". Malta Today. Archived from the original on 26 May 2015.
  2. ^ Zahra, Angelo (12 April 2007). "The Jerma Palace Hotel saga". Times of Malta. Archived from the original on 8 November 2015.
  3. ^ a b Times of Malta, 1 Aug 2020
  4. ^ a b c Johnston, Waylon (19 April 2014). "Former top hotel is a dangerous wreck". Times of Malta. Archived from the original on 20 December 2015.
  5. ^ Richards, Brian (2008). Malta. New Holland Publishers. p. 73. ISBN 9781845378714.
  6. ^ Xuereb, Matthew (15 April 2010). "Planning authority still awaiting brief for Jerma Palace Hotel site project". Times of Malta. Archived from the original on 20 December 2015.
  7. ^ a b "The Jerma Palace hotel is to be demolished". Times of Malta. 20 August 2016. Archived from the original on 21 August 2016.
  8. ^ a b "Fire in Jerma Palace Hotel ruins – not for the first time". TVM. 20 August 2016. Archived from the original on 21 August 2016.
  9. ^ a b c d Malta Independent, 22 Feb 2022
  10. ^ a b c Malta Today, 23 Sept 2021
  11. ^ a b c d Debono, James (15 December 2017). "Plans for Jerma site to host apartment complex and 13-storey hotel". The Shift. Archived from the original on 18 December 2017.
  12. ^ "Council: Jerma ruins are a danger and should be demolished". Times of Malta. 22 July 2016. Archived from the original on 22 July 2016.
  13. ^ "Mistra Village and Jerma Palace owners get slapped with enforcement notices". Times of Malta. 20 August 2016. Archived from the original on 21 August 2016.
  14. ^ Xuereb, Matthew (22 August 2016). "Jerma Hotel site valued at €20.8m, to be sold at judicial sale by auction in October". Times of Malta. Archived from the original on 22 August 2016.
  15. ^ Times of Malta, 4 May 2018
  16. ^ Times of Malta, 1 Aug 2020
  17. ^ Newsbook, 23 July 2021
  18. ^ Times of Malta, 19 Sept 2021
  19. ^ Lovin Malta
  20. ^ Times of Malta, 21 Nov 2021
  21. ^ Eurovision, Song Contest (9 March 2020). "Destiny - All Of My Love - Malta - Official Music Video - Eurovision 2020". Youtube.
  22. ^ Lovin Malta