The site presently occupied by the dilapidated Jerma Palace Hotel in Marsascala has been valued by a court expert at €20.8 million, the Times of Malta has learnt.

The entire area, which is as large as five-and-a-half football pitches, will be sold at a judicial sale by auction in October. The sale was ordered by the court in an ongoing case instituted by HSBC Bank Malta against brothers Geoffrey and Peter Montebello’s firm, JefPet Ltd.

For years, the abandoned area has been a cause for concern for residents and those in the area, with what remains of the building slowly falling apart. The area had also become a dumping ground, with many disposing of their waste there.

Last Friday, the Planning Authority kicked off the process to demolish the derelict building, years after the Marsascala hotel closed its doors, becoming a death trap.

The Planning Authority issued an enforcement notice ordering the hotel’s owners to demolish the building. It also issued an enforcement notice against the Mistra Village Holiday Complex, which belongs to the same company, and also became a derelict site.

It would cost €1.5 million to demolish the present building

Last month, Marsascala councillor Charlot Cassar filed a motion for the council to formally request the authority to take action on the Jerma site. This motion got cross-party support when it was seconded by Labour deputy mayor Desirée Attard.

The Jerma Palace Hotel and the surrounding land covers an area of a staggering 38,745 square metres. Half of this is land currently developed and which is occupied by buildings. A further 17,155 square metres is the area occupied by the foreshore, while 3,665 square metres is the land occupied by St Thomas Tower and its precincts – land which Heritage Malta considers to be of historical importance.

The hotel was built over five storeys and had a total of 345 rooms: 193 were seaview rooms, another 59 were overlooking the St Thomas Tower while the rest had country views.

According to the architect appointed by the court as a technical expert, the land in question was subject to a perpetual groundrent of €1,452. The notarial deed was signed on October 21, 1965 and was valid until 2065 when the groundrent would rise by €145 a year to €1,597 for the period between 2065 and 2115. The deed stipulates that between the years 2116 and 2165, the groundrent would increase by a further five per cent.

According to notarial deeds, the land on which the Jerma Palace Hotel was built originally belonged to the Franciscan Conventuals and was then sold to Santumas Shareholdings plc, which in turn sold it to the Libyan firm Lafico in 1976.

The hotel closed down in March 2007 and Jefpet Limited purchased it from Lafico for €18.6 million in July 2008. They spent a further €1.1 million on equipment and furnishings.

Jefpet Limited purchased more parcels of land from Santumas Shareholdings plc worth a total of almost €3.8 million. The total paid by Jefpet Limited for the Jerma site was €22.4 million.

According to the court expert, it would cost €1.5 million to demolish the present building.

The Jerma Palace Hotel was Malta’s most prestigious hotel in the south. Then the biggest in Malta with 700 beds, it had been opened in 1982.

It had taken three years to build and cost €16.3 million and until it closed was operated by the Corinthia chain.


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