Land valued at over €2.7 million in Gżira, on which construction magnate Michael Stivala wants to build an 11-storey hotel, goes under the hammer tomorrow after the court ordered the judicial sale by auction of the remaining single share of the site ownership.

The Planning Authority granted Stivala a permit to build the planned hotel last January despite an affidavit and a court judgment showing that he was not the sole owner of the entire site.

It emerged there was a missing share held by Carmel Buttigieg, who submitted an affidavit that he owned one of 72 shares.

While the owners of the other 71 shares had sold their shares to Stivala, Buttigieg said he did not sell his share because he did not want the site to be developed and continue to ruin the area.

The court confirmed that his share must be sold by court auction. It also ordered Stivala to pay more than €100,000 in court expenses.

Stivala told the Planning Commission that he was contesting the court decisions and refused to show proof of ownership when pressed by residents and NGOs. 

According to information available on the court website, the land will go under judicial auction at 11.30am tomorrow.

The site, jointly owned by Carmelo Stivala Group Ltd and Carmelo Buttigieg, is valued at €2,760,000. The remaining portion will go to the highest bidder following the court judgment in October last year and confirmed in a decree handed down last April.

That portion, measuring approximately 475 square metres, formed part of the three premises in Triq Parisio and Triq Moroni.

Stivala, who is the president of The Malta Developers’ Association, was granted a permit (PA 5962/21) to develop the site that directly abuts the gardens of the scheduled Villa Bonici and is characterised by residential buildings.

A garden that once surrounded a century-old farmhouse on the site was cleared and the area was illegally used as a car park for a number of years, before being sanctioned by the Planning Authority in June last year.

The farmhouse will be demolished to be replaced by a gym, spa, games room, store and indoor pool, a reception, conference room, breakfast area at ground floor, hotel accommodation over nine levels, a restaurant at the 10th floor and a pool deck with recreation area at level 11.

Excavation will make way for three floors of underground parking,

The permit was issued following a two-hour hearing in which NGOs and residents expressed their disdain that the site is in a residential area and not a tourist zone.

The commission voted unanimously in favour of the project, which the case officer had recommended for approval, despite over 150 objections by residents.

“If anyone has a problem, we can go to court. The declaration is correct. This board is here to determine a planning application. Issues of ownership should not be discussed here. I am one of the owners,” Stivala had told the commission.

The commission chairperson said that according to law, an owner could also be a co-owner and ruled that Stivala was one of the co-owners.

The appeal before the Environment and Planning Appeals Tribunal is still pending, while a request by objectors to suspend the permit until the appeal is decided was refused.

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