The site of the Old Fish Market in Valletta is set to be restored and used in new ways under government plans to regenerate old buildings in the city through private investment.

A call has been made for proposals to rehabilitate and transform a large tract of land and property at Barriera Wharf.

The offer is of a 65-year concession agreement in return for an initial minimum investment of €18 million and further investment throughout the period.

The site is made up of the Grade 1-classified building known as il-Pixkerija (fish market), the former Quarantine Hospital, also classified as Grade 1, the building housing the energy ministry, the area fronting the buildings and the seashore, and three Grade 1-classified Pinto stores. 

The fish market at Grand Harbour's Barriera Wharf was rebuilt 80 years ago to make space for the Valletta ring road. In 2015, the fish market moved to Marsa for the building to be developed into a boutique hotel. But that project never came to fruition.

In total, the area on offer at Barriera Wharf covers more than 21,000 square metres.

A similar call for proposals was made last year for the transformation of Evans Building at the bottom of Valletta. The government-owned company steering these projects, Malta Strategic Partnership Projects Limited, is also looking for investors to regenerate the site known as the Chalet in Sliema.

The company said: "As with the Evans Building site project, this [Pixkerija] project is meant to serve as a model of how old buildings can be adapted to new uses through their regeneration.

"It is aiming for a project that brings together different "high-level" services such as berthing facilities and tourism accommodation.

The concessionaire will be required to appoint several technical experts in restoration. Importance will be placed on environmental considerations during both planning and operational phases.

Applicants will compete not only on the best project but also on the concession amount.

The concessionaires will pay the government amounts totalling about €615,000 per year in ground rent and concession fees.

"The project investment is intended to generate not only revenue for the government but also economic benefits for society as a whole," the company added.

It estimates that the project will generate about 59 jobs directly and 129 equivalent full-time jobs through the multiplier effect in the investment stage, and 137 and 320 jobs respectively during operations.

It expects the direct generation of €2.4 million in annual economic value added, rising to €5.5 million annually through multiplier effects.

The company said the project was consistent with the government’s goals of regenerating tourism zones, creating a brand identity an improving the overall touristic product.

The government was also regenerating the Grand Harbour to conserve its most important areas and improve opportunities for communities that live around it.

“With planned upgrades, including the regeneration of dilapidated buildings such as those in the Valletta Old Fish Market Site, the Grand Harbour will contribute towards our nation’s social, cultural and economic activities.”

Redeveloping the area, the company said, will not just boost the local economy but create a better quality of life.

The call for proposals closes on August 30, 2023.

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