By David Robinson

A new 70-berth superyacht-only marina is to be developed by 2018 as part of the £1.1bn Blue Water Gibraltar project. Camoren Holdings, a Gibraltar-registered business, has been set up as the development company for the project.

Described as ‘Gibraltar’s largest-ever inward investment’, the Blue Water Gibraltar development will be located on the 38ha Eastside reclamation which was originally reclaimed some 10 years ago and sold by the Gibraltar government. In a change of mind, they repurchased in October 2013 for £28m and as part of the new project they will receive £83m from Camoren Holdings.

“This is a fully-costed project,” Michael Crisell, managing director of Camoren, told SB. “We will start work later this year on the new sea wall and then once that is completed we will start work on the marina. The marina will be developed in one go. There will be no floating berths; they will all be piled and we plan to open in 2018.”

“We are already working with a marina consultant,” Crisell added. “The average size of berth in the marina at present is 59.1m (194ft), but this will likely come down to nearer 55m (180ft). We will be able to take superyachts up to 165m (541ft) and may be able to squeeze in up to 185m (607ft) to be able to take the largest yachts.”

“The marina will be a fully service facility with the exception of maintenance,” Crisell continued. “We have done a deal with Gibdock (the former Royal Navy dockyard) for them to provide repair and maintenance services. This will be based on their No 3 dock, which is covered and is of 154m x 29m (506ft x 95ft). Gibdock used to work on superyachts but stopped doing so some years ago.

In terms of funding the project, very little information is available. Apart from the £1.1bn total cost figure and the £83m payment to the government, Camoren will also pay £4.75m for the rubble on the Eastide reclamation, which will be used to build the new sea wall to protect the marina.

Camoren chairman Leslie Allen-Vercoe has not so far identified the backers to the project. He told the Gibraltar Chronicle: “We are dealing with a number of banks and institutions and one or two potential joint venture partners.” He emphasised that he had no doubt that sufficient money was available for the project.

As a businessman, Allen-Vercoe has had real estate development and funding experience and he has also had associations with the Russian energy industry. Crisell has real estate management and project development experience and he currently runs a consulting company based in central London.

In addition to the marina, Blue Water will include:

  • over 450 high-end apartments and suites
  • over 1,000 affordable homes through a government co-ownership scheme
  • a number of commercial units which will provide for luxury shopping and cafes and restaurants
  • a five-star hotel
  • a promenade along the seafront linking Eastern Beach to Catalan Bay
  • the re-routing of traffic along the eastern side

Camoren beat 16 other contenders to gain the preferred bidder status of the project. The government made a call last June for expressions of interest with a deadline in August for outline project plans.

Allen-Vercoe added: “Our company is entirely confident in the prospects for the Gibraltar economy which is showing strong and resilient growth. We are confident of the prospects for Gibraltar’s future. And we are confident of the opportunities that Blue Water will create for Gibraltar also.

“The development we are announcing,” he continued, “represents significant inward investment of well over £1bn. This will create a huge boost to the Gibraltar economy and will generate many sustainable job opportunities. This investment will deliver important economic growth and will also offer opportunities for many Gibraltar businesses. This development will no doubt become both a landmark development in Gibraltar and indeed in the whole of the Mediterranean.”