Construction mogul Joseph Portelli admitted that he meets with politicians regularly to “speed up” the development process whenever he believes he is arguing for what is rightfully his.
“I put forward my proposals ahead of large-scale projects. If they don’t match the government’s vision for the country, then I put my plans aside,” Portelli tells Times of Malta in a rare interview.
Portelli is one of the most controversial developers in the country, having drawn criticism from activists for what they believe is his unbridled building spree.
He says it makes no financial sense for him to invest heavily in plans for large projects the government does not want.
“The day a government tells me my projects aren’t needed for the country anymore, I back out, cash my money and go do something else with my life.”
But Portelli denied receiving preferential treatment from the planning authority: “I don’t speak to anyone at the PA to get my way.” Portelli hosted the interview at the top of his most ambitious project, Paceville’s Mercury Towers. And it is probably not his last.
“I expect there will be 50 more towers here within the next 100 years, because cities are built with projects like these... Not only will the tower boost tourism, it is also a beautiful sight and the value of property in the area has shot up,” he says.
He rejected claims that Malta is oversupplied with property, insisting that 80 per cent of his projects are sold on plan.
“Malta needs 100 more years of development. God forbid developers cease to exist.”
He also revealed plans to construct a new stadium for Ħamrun Spartans and confirmed he is behind the development of the former Jerma Palace hotel.