A year of cul­ture that lasts for­ever

The Daily Telegraph - Property - - Front Page -

ti­tle is held by Val­letta in Malta and Leeuwar­den in the Nether­lands.

The de­vel­op­ment and pub­lic­ity op­por­tu­ni­ties that come with be­ing a Euro­pean Cap­i­tal of Cul­ture can have a di­rect im­pact on house prices. “As soon as the Val­letta 2018 Foun­da­tion Board of Gover­nors started pro­mot­ing the city in 2013, prop­erty prices shot up, in some cases by 100 per cent,” says Ray Young of Frank Salt, a Mal­tese es­tate agent. “Val­letta has come back to life. A lot of al­most derelict build­ings have been bought and ren­o­vated, and a num­ber of prop­er­ties that just wouldn’t sell have now been sold. There used to be around 2,000 empty build­ings. This has gone down to around 500.”

There’s still op­por­tu­nity to snap up some of Val­letta’s stylish homes. A fivebed­room palazzo with high ceil­ings, wooden beams and stone arches is on the mar­ket with Frank Salt for €1.7mil­lion (£1.5mil­lion). It has a lift and a decked roof ter­race with a small swim­ming pool and sea views. For a smaller op­tion, there’s a two-bed­room pent­house listed with Homes of Qual­ity, a mem­ber of the Frank Salt group, for €1.1mil­lion. This du­plex apart­ment has been el­e­gantly re­fur­bished with an open-plan kitchen/liv­ing/din­ing area, two ter­races, a heated Jacuzzi and a roof ter­race with views over Ma­noel Is­land and Tigné Point.

Many of these huge palazzo build­ings, which were built by the Knights of Saint John, have been turned into bou­tique ho­tels or apart­ments, es­pe­cially since the govern­ment launched in­cen­tives to boost the city’s im­age. “Over the past three years, in an­tic­i­pa­tion of Val­letta be­ing the 2018 Euro­pean Cap­i­tal of Cul­ture, we have seen a con­sid­er­able amount of new in­ter­est from both lo­cal and for­eign in­vestors,” says Ben­jamin Grech of es­tate agency En­gel & Völk­ers. He is mar­ket­ing a du­plex apart­ment de­signed by AP Ar­chi­tects, which has re­cently col­lab­o­rated with Ital­ian de­signer Renzo Pi­ano on the new par­lia­ment build­ing in Val­letta. The two-bed­room flat is listed for €2.8mil­lion.

Michele and Keith Jenk­ins bought a seven-storey house with a bed­room on each floor in the cen­tre of Val­letta in 2015, pay­ing about €200,000. The cou­ple, who live in Lon­don, had pre­vi­ously owned a flat in St Paul’s Bay on the north-east coast of Malta for more than 20 years. “We wanted a change and as we used to go to Val­letta fre­quently, we thought why not buy there in­stead,” says Michele. The cou­ple have no­ticed quite a change in Val­letta over the past few years. “A lot of build­ings have been ren­o­vated lead­ing up to this year and there’s been a marked in­crease in the num­ber of restau­rants and bars,” Michele says. “When we first came here to go to the the­atre, there was nowhere to eat after­wards.”

Im­prove­ments have been made across Val­letta, from tidy­ing up the city’s moats to re­fur­bish­ing the old cov­ered mar­ket in Mer­chants Street, which has now re­opened and sells Waitrose prod­ucts. The un­veil­ing last month of the re­stored Triton Foun­tain at the mod­ernised city gate topped off the ex­ten­sive ren­o­va­tion works.

Most cities use the year as an oc­ca­sion to re­store, trans­form or build new cul­tural and other build­ings, ac­cord­ing to a re­port from the pro­gramme’s or­gan­is­ing body. In 1996, Copen­hagen turned its for­mer naval yards into

The view of Val­letta from Sliema, main; the Mal­tese city’s colour­ful streets, above; a palazzo in Val­letta, be­low right, is €1.7 mil­lion with Frank Salt

A two-bed­room pent­house in cen­tral Val­letta is €1.1 mil­lion through Homes of Qual­ity

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