Gozo magnate Joseph Portelli’s PRA Construction is planning a 196-apartment complex on a warehouse area in Msida located between Trejqa ta’ Boxbox and Triq it-Torri, just uphill from Valley Road.
With a gross floor area of some 34,000 square metres, the two eight-storey blocks will also have retail shops and an underground parking for 250 cars.
The warehouses activities within the site, covering over 4,000sq.m, currently include the storage of pharmaceutical products, distribution and administrative activities.
The development is being proposed by PRA Construction Ltd, a company partly owned by Portelli. His other company Excel Investments, co-owned by Ta’ Dirjanu supermarket owner Mark Agius, has already submitted an application to demolish the warehouses and excavate the site.
The planning application proposing a replacement has been under wraps for the past four months and made public by the Environment and Resources Authority which is screening the application.
The developers’ consultants ADI have acknowledged that due to the substantial increase in elevation within the site, “the Scheme will have a notably pronounced visual impact in terms of height.”
Flood hazard plan
Since the development is located within a flood hazard area and close to the Msida Valley, ADI has recommended several mitigation measures to address this risk, including the erection of flood barriers, raised foundations, water diversion systems, proper drainage systems, and the use of flood-resistant building materials in the design and construction plan. It also suggests a “comprehensive emergency response plan that includes evacuation procedures and prioritises the safety of residents during flood events.”
These measures are still being discussed with the engineers of the project to determine their “feasibility”.
The development will be taking place in the immediate vicinity of eight listed dwellings along Triq Il-Torri, which are protected due to their architectural value. The site is also 75m away from an irrigaton reservoir on Valley Road, which is designated as a Tree Protection Area. An application presented two years ago proposed to transform the reservoir into a football pitch, remains pending.
The Portelli project is not expected to have an adverse impact on air quality, since the additional number of daily car trips is only expected to increase by 208.
But the project statement claims that the project is driven “by the pressing need for quality housing… equipped with essential amenities” and which foster “a holistic and fulfilling lifestyle”. Moreover by “emphasizing pedestrian-friendly spaces, the project envisions the integration of neighbours and the cultivation of a strong sense of community.”