Around 20 years ago, if you mentioned the word ‘Tigne’ to a local, the reaction you would have had would have been something along the lines of:
Oh, a lot of Chinese people live there. They work in Red China Dock. Some of them are spies. But they’re very polite.
That’s where a bunch of long-haired, rock bands rehearse. Thank God they’re almost far away enough that nobody hears them!
Don’t go there. It’s a mecca for communists and druggies! They hang around in the barracks, smoke pot and pretend they’re doing some theatre.
Things change. From a virtual no-go zone for the middle-class in the 80s, Tigne’ is now the latest in a series of multi-million dollar developments, mixing modern retail space with residential apartments. If you want to buy an apartment, click here – it won’t come cheap. Typically, apartments at places like Tigne Point are snapped up by the rich, the expats and property investors – it’s really no surprise that around a third of Malta’s residential property stock is currently vacant.
The Point, Malta’s largest shopping mall, has just opened its doors to the public. That’s 14,000 square metres of retail space for 49 retail units. Right now, half of Malta seems to have taken up residence there – to experience the shops, the eateries and the very 21st century space. As a development, Tigne’ will continue to attract mixed opinions – from the purists, who are horrified at the increasing high-rise of Sliema to the pragmatists who say it’s development that keeps the economy running and complement the architects for designing attractive modern retail and living spaces cheek by jowl with the remnants of world class heritage.
As I blinked at the crowds, the brands and the glittering lights at 11am on a Saturday morning, I thought, for a moment, that I could be anywhere. London, Berlin, Shoppingarcade.com. Malta may one day become a yellow version of Hong Kong, or a showcase for lifestyle shopping malls.
And then I remembered that sometime in 1982, I had my first speaking part in a production of a play at Tigne. It was ‘The Jew of Malta.’ I wonder what Marlowe would have made of the economics and the brave new concrete world, blinking eyeless at Valletta, across the water.
Photo: Pierre D. Zammit