Katari Hospitality Joint Venture (JV) has put in the highest bid of €40.7 million to take over a 65-year concession of lower Valletta’s Evans Building, putting it in pole position to redevelop the iconic site, a stone’s throw away from the Mediterranean Conference Centre and Fort St Elmo, into high-end tourism accommodation.

Katari Hospitality is one of six companies to bid for the project, according to the Government’s online tender portal.

In second place is Iconic Hotel Malta – Nobu, with a bid of €39.3 million, followed by Hili Group’s HV Hospitality (€24 million), AX Group (€22.6 million), SeaBank Hotel and Catering Ltd (€20.9 million) and Valletta Luxury Properties (€20.9 million).

Earlier, The Shift reported that Katari Hospitality is a joint venture between the Qatari-Government owned Katara Hospitality and leading local developers, which MaltaToday identified as GAP Holdings (although it made no mention of Katara Hospitality).

Formerly known as Qatar National Hotels Company, Katara Hospitality is the largest hotel owner, developer and operator in Qatar.

The company owns properties in Qatar, Egypt, Morocco, the United Kingdom, France, Italy, Singapore, the Netherlands, the United States, Switzerland, Spain and Thailand.

Its portfolio includes many hotels run in partnership with leading brands, including Ritz-Carlton, Westin, Marriott, InterContinental, Fairmont, and Raffles.

GAP Holdings is a major local real estate developer perhaps best known for its Fort Cambridge project in Sliema, though its developments can be found all over the Maltese Islands.

The four-storey Evans Building was constructed in 1952 and has an area of around 3,327sqm. Originally build to serve as university laboritories, until recently it housed several Government departments.

The winning bidder will need to retain the building’s exterior shell, but is allowed to make interior modifications, following a consultative process with UNESCO and the Superintendence of Cultural Heritage.

Malta Strategic Projects Partnership, the Government agency overseeing the deal, believes that this will serve as a positive and sustainable model of adapting an old building to cater for new functions.

“The introduction of new high-end tourism accommodation in the Southern Harbour such as Evans is expected to contribute to the generation of employment opportunities, economic value added and the attraction of higher quality tourism and greater touristic activity in this area of Valletta,” it said.

Although Katari Hospitality JV has put in the highest bid, this does not mean it will necessarily be selected, as the evaluation is based on the best price-quality ratio, not price alone.

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