Plans for the renovation of the lower end of Strait Street in Valletta were revealed last weekend. The project, known as The Gut, will see nine properties on the street developed into bars and restaurants with brand new (somewhat questionable) names. The new area will be developed by VBL.
Here’s a few observations on what we know about the scheme so far:
1. It might be the answer to Jason Micallef’s promise to make Valletta the “new Paceville”
Back in 2014, Valletta 2018 foundation chairman Jason Micallef spoke about a vision for Strait Street to become the capital’s “new Paceville” in an attempt to revive the area. Is this what the new project promises to deliver?
VBL’s plan is to bring to Strait Street a string of new destinations for fine dining, cocktails and live music. Old bars which had their heyday many years ago on the notorious street will be revived as concept bars and restaurants – including a tea house, ice cream parlour, and champagne and oyster lounge.
Strait Street is already the social destination for people of many ages in Malta. It’s alive, bustling and always packed with people on the weekend. It is steeped in history – one which locals are very passionate and romantic about. Because it’s so unique we think it’s quite unlikely that it will have the same feeling of what Paceville is today.
2. There are nine clubs, some of which have very cheesy names
The new hangouts have each already been named. There are some that sound great, and will roll off the tongue nicely on a night out, like 99, or The Victoria. Others, not so much – if you name your cocktail bar The James Bond, and your ice cream shop Blue Peter, you need to be ready for an ongoing piss-take from Maltese punters.
3. But the new places all have super interesting stories
From the new ice cream parlour that was once home to “colourful stories of naughty pleasures”, to a former “dodgy bar with wayward overtones” that will now be a home to hipsters – the renovated establishments all have unique histories. You can read about what’s in store for each of them on the project’s website.
3. It looks like it will actually happen
This doesn’t seem to be one of those ‘great idea, but it’ll never happen’ Malta moments. VBL have already acquired the properties and have started construction works for their renovation.
We could be looking at the whole thing being completely up and running within the next two to three years. We might even already be sipping cocktails at The James Bond (lol) by next summer.
4. The people involved seem to have Valletta at heart
The renovation project is being driven by Valletta Boutique Living (VBL) Ltd, a real estate company that works exclusively in the capital. Their promise is that “‘The Gut’ will see the regeneration of an entire quarter of Valletta into a top quality gastro retail venue, focused on fine dining, live music, art and culture”
Apart from experience working solely in Valletta, the company’s CEO, Dr Andrei Imbroll has been working in property development since 2004. After making a move from medical practice to the property industry, he opened a Croatian property investment company, managing real estate projects on the ground there.
5. It’s one more thing that will keep Valletta in the lime light
Strait Street has not only been taken back with open arms by the public in a heroic comeback, it’s also got it’s own TV show, and has been the focus of regeneration efforts ahead of Valletta’s stint as European Capital of Culture in 2018.
It has its own dedicated artistic director and has already seen a number of old bars in the upper end of the street revitalised and enjoyed by hundreds of eager customers – both local and foreign. The Gut project promises to provide Valletta with even more photo ops, and reasons-to-visit material.