The development at White Rocks, to which Economy Minister Chris Cardona tied his political career, appears to have reached a complete standstill ever since negotiations reached “its final stages” over a year and a half ago.
In January 2018, Cardona told Dissett that negotiations were about to be finalised, with reports emerging that the White Rocks Development Consortium (WRDC) had reached an agreement for the construction of a mixed-use complex on the 450,000 square metre Pembroke site, that would include a seven-star luxury hotel, along with leisure, hospitality, residential and commercial units.
However, sources within the developers’ consortium recently told Lovin Malta that “there was nothing to report” on the project at present.
Cardona, himself, failed to reply to questions sent by the newsroom. However, he recently told Parliament that:
“One needs to understand that to ensure that the process is transparent and done carefully, the negotiations and any agreement are required to be concluded in this respect in the best possible way.”
Cardona’s position seems to have been the same for the better part of year, repeating this stance whenever confronted with the delay.
His coyness on the project seems to run contrary to his bold stance on TVM’s Reporter, where he expressly said he was “tying [his] political career with the success of this investment.”
Eleven proposals had been submitted in the call for expressions of interest in the project in 2014, and after two years of negotiations, it was the WRDC, a consortium made up of several local and foreign companies, that was selected.
In the past, the White Rocks Development Consortium (WRDC) was coy on the full amount it would be paying for the land. While it was reported that they would pay a €25 million sum, the WRDC has long insisted that the total investment would be around €400 million.
The site has been earmarked for development for around two decades, with the Nationalist government first attempting to do so in 1999.
In 2010, now PN Secretary General Clyde Puli headed an attempt to turn the site into a sports village. After this failed to gain enough interest, the Labour Party, who was in opposition at the time, criticised the PN administration for promoting a project that was, in fact, a white elephant.
Questions specifically asking Minister Cardona whether he will stand by his pledge to step down should the project fail to get off the ground remain unanswered.