The ongoing regeneration of the Upper Town was brought into sharp relief yesterday as the old Police Barracks was formally inaugurated, now fully refurbished into luxury flats called The Arches.
The project retains the distinctive arches and colonnades of a building that was once home to Gibraltar’s police officers and their families.
“Building in Gibraltar represents unique challenges but doing a refurbishment of a historical building requires passion, perseverance and love,” said Blanca Aragon Zaragoza, the manager at developer CIMCO Partners who was the driving force behind the project.
The Arches was formally inaugurated by Chief Minister Fabian Picardo in the presence of the Governor, Lieutenant General Edward Davis, and Mrs Davis, as well as other guests from the property and legal sectors.
Also present was Commissioner Ian McGrail of the Royal Gibraltar Police, as well as representatives from the association of retired police officers.
Mr McGrail unveiled a plaque in memory of all who lived in the barracks and served in the RGP.
Throughout the development, CIMCO has paid heed not just to the building’s architectural heritage but to its place in Gibraltarian history and culture too.
Guests at the reception were shown images of the old barracks and were told how the location had been a hub of Upper Town life in the past.
“The one thing that struck me was that Police Barracks was always a happy place,” Mrs Aragon said.
“I really hope this will continue into the future.”
The refurbished building boasts 48 apartments and also incorporates new public spaces and pavements for pedestrians walking through the area. There are plans too for a restaurant and a shop on the site.
CIMCO director Christopher Vujnovich spoke of Gibraltar’s development as “a small European version” of Hong Kong or Singapore, adding that while investment in new property developments was welcome, projects such as The Arches presented a tough, yet worthwhile challenge.
“Refurbishing a heritage building is much more difficult and tremendously more expensive than building something new,” he said.
But “…we can’t forget the importance of Gibraltar’s heritage.”
The Chief Minister, who grew up close to Police Barracks and played there as a child, praised the developer for turning a derelict, rat-infested site into an attractive property that would once again breathe life into the Upper Town.
“Thanks for preserving this beautiful, iconic building,” he said.
Pics by Johnny Bugeja