Over the past years, Debono Group, through its company Rohan Arch Limited (RAL), has been working on a comprehensive masterplan for a regeneration project of its site in Ħaż-Żebbuġ, on the same site where the Group currently operates Michael Debono Limited vehicle showroom and the related aftersales activities as well as the Group’s administrative head office.
Today RAL has submitted its plans for this development to the Planning Authority. The landmark project will include Grade ‘A’ workspaces for knowledge intensive service providers in the central region of Malta. This will be supported and complemented with retail, food and beverage, leisure uses as well as local amenities surrounded by extensive open public spaces to create a new vibrant destination for all. The project will also include a multi-storey car park, which will be a first in the area. It is estimated that, once complete, the project will generate employment opportunities for around 1,300 people, with an investment of over €55 million.
There are no plans for any residential development and the project will be on property that is already built up and committed. The secondary town centre project will occupy a footprint area of just under 11,000 square metres, out of which more than 4,000 square metres will be car-free public open spaces. These will include community facilities including relaxation areas, green areas and a main plaza.
The development will be split over two blocks. The maximum height of the main block, which will house the main commercial activities, is that of eight floors and will feature a terraced approach to the building, meaning that parts of this block will be significantly lower in height.
Geoffrey Debono, Debono Group CEO, said that this project constitutes a major milestone for his family’s business: “Our family started doing business in Ħaż-Żebbuġ since 1960 and the business, in particular the Toyota brand which we represent, has been operating from this locality for three generations ever since. We truly feel an integral part of this community and the business has grown exponentially over the years.”
He added: “The automotive and mobility industry is undergoing significant changes and after more than 60 years of operations in Żebbuġ our Group has identified that it is time to act to secure the long-term sustainability of our business ventures and maintain the site as a new landmark destination that will generate significant employment opportunities. Our vision is to develop a ‘destination for all’ with extensive open public spaces as well as commercial activities underpinned by strong ESG (Environmental, Social and Governance) principles leading to a healthy lifestyle for all age groups, wellness, and sustainability, with a strong emphasis on wellbeing of employees working at the project, visitors and the community at large.”
Luke Coppini, CEO for the Group’s Property arm said: “We firmly believe that this project is a well-needed enhancement to the quality of life of the Żebbuġ community and will add a new destination that can fuel the regeneration of the entire Ħal Mula area, predominantly designated as a commercial and industrial zone. This project will be a truly unique business address in the Maltese landscape setting new levels for development and place, making it accessible for all.”
He added that the over the past two years RAL has sought the feedback and inputs from various stakeholders and has taken on a number of recommendations on board to improve the various aspects of the project including building fabric, elevations, terracing, parking, accessibility and landscaping amongst others. One of the key elements is that the main block will not be in a monolith form, but will feature a terraced approach to the different parts of the building.
“We remain committed to keep all stakeholders, including the locality of Ħaż-Żebbuġ and its residents, updated and consulted on this project,” said Mr Coppini.
He said that the project will be based on strict sustainability principles and will seek to blend the design and aesthetic aspect with the local architecture in terms of choice and colour of materials. Landscaping will be a key element of the project to ensure sustainable green spaces for the benefit of the community.
The Debono Group has opted to shift the parking from underground to above ground and thus reduce excavation and dumping by some 65%, and significantly reduce the construction period, therefore generating a positive environmental impact.
The development, even in view of local regulations, will be completely accessible to people with disabilities and with mobility issues.