BRIAN FRANCIS & ASSOCIATES are a firm of chartered surveyors in Gibraltar with a specialist knowledge of the local property market providing a service to individuals, corporate and individual clients.
Brian started the estate agency in September 1986 after 14 years in the Civil Service culminating in his appointment as Director of the Crown Lands from 1982-86 where he was in charge of development and planning just as the frontier with Spain swung its doors open for the first time since 1969.
He recalls that ‘busy time’ very well and how challenging it was to be involved in the real estate sector at the time when homeownership was at its infancy stage.
“Although it was difficult at first to get into the Gibraltar market, I played an important role in persuading a local group of developers to form a consortium to tackle the grave housing problem at a time when homeownership represented only about 5% of the total housing stock,” he tells the Olive Press.
“The consortium – aptly named Gibraltar Homes Ltd – built around 1,500 low-cost homes on reclaimed land then known as Westside 1 (Montagu Gardens and Montagu Crescent) and Westside II (Harbour Views).”
The Europort reclamation project carried out at the time created some 300,000m2 of development land and marked the beginning of the 50:50 co-ownership scheme that helped local people buy their first homes.
It also created a massive land bank for future commercial and open market residential development.
Brian Francis said that the Europort reclamation tackled the ‘scarcity of land’ in the British territory just as the Ministry of Defence started to transfer its own land occupied for Defence purposes to the Gibraltar Government in order to diversify the economy from its heavy reliance on Defence spending to one based on tourism, financial services and port related activities.
“The transfer of surplus MOD occupied land on the western foreshore along Queensway led to construction of the prestigious Queensway Quay (1992-96) and more recently Kings Wharf in three phases known as Quay 27, Quay 29 and Quay 31 which together with other complementary luxury developments in the area known as The Sails and The Island have transformed the western foreshore into a busy hive of commercial and residential activity which will be further transformed when the Victoria Keys development which involves more land reclamation to the north of Queensway Quay takes place,” said Brian.
Other reclamation projects also took place in Marina Bay close to the Airport and the very successful Ocean Village Complex which has recently seen the completion of 144 luxurious rental apartments arranged over five buildings at the tip of the main Ocean Village Marina pier known as Marina Club.
“Fast forward to 2023 and Gibraltar finds itself in a completely different position after Brexit, the pandemic, and the ongoing Ukraine conflict,” Brian reflected.
The experienced estate agent is now hoping for an EU Treaty which could unlock key opportunities in the region, but he fears that the lack of agreement could be ‘detrimental to Gibraltar and the Campo Region’, banking on a deal which could really bring the ‘shared prosperity’ to the area everyone wants.
For all of your Gibraltar property needs, contact Brian Francis & Associates on 00(350) 200 71131 or 71625.