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Larnaca’s New Seafront
We have reported in this column recently, that, Larnaca, notwithstanding that it attracts from time to time large scale investors, their projects do not seem to go forward and are left with the announcements only.
Much of this cause, depends on the red tape and the uncooperative civil service and others and this notwithstanding the bending backwards by the Government for such large scale projects. Regarding Larnaca, there appears to be another problem in blocking the various proposals, the various pressure groups that seem to “govern” such projects and by projection the economy of the town. We reported before of a wholesale Chinese retail Mall at the old Larnaca airport. Pressure groups not only halted that, but more or less they even named the prospective Chinese investor as a crook. We then have the development of old Larnaca port, for which after 20 years of discussions we are back to square one, awaiting international investors by March/2017 (we expect none, since we do not know what sort of port this will be, the economic parameters apart). We read about another shopping mall to be in excess of 40.000 sq.mts. – too big for Larnaca. The announcement has been made but that was the end of it. The more recent potential investors for the town, that of the Phoenicoudes hotel and that of the old Castle hotel, have both halted and both investors felt the need to place whole page press announcements declaring their disappointment.
A new opportunity appears in the horizon of Larnaca beach front which will be the result of the removal of the oil refinery installations and depots which will open up the eastern Larnaca beach area. Not an attractive beach, but it could be improved with the construction of breakwaters (see the Lordos Hotel area). We do not suspect sea/shore pollution (but it must be checked) and with the expected beach improvement Larnaca east will have an extensive sandy beach extending from the harbor up to the SBA boundaries (will be in excess of 5 km) similar to the Limassol seafront.
Limassol sales prices on the beach apartments have an average sales price of €15.000-€20.000/sq.m. and off the beach ±€10.000/each, but then, this is Limassol. For Larnaca, we expect that prices after the beach improvements are carried out these prices will be ½ that of Limassol’s. Much of this depend on the fate of the Larnaca port. If and when it is developed (Larnaca port) it will introduce in the market around 15.000 sq.mts. of added units, a number which together with other development areas and the new beach front cannot be sustained by the local market . In addition the much talked Dhekelia road widening scheme, is in suspense for several years now due to opposing views by local authorities, whereas, unlike Limassol, the port and the new development area is interrupted by all sorts of (mainly) bad quality/aged projects.
The prevailing development zone is a mix industrial/office/store uses. The pending new proposals, once the industrial installations are removed (in 1-2 years time) the new expected zone provides a wide range of uses from hotels to offices, apartments etc etc, having a total building density of 250% and a maximum 10 floors (not yet certain, it is just a proposal by the owners). We find this proposal is well behind that of Limassol with its own 30floor and high density. The good thing is that the freeze of the local development over the years, left some large plots of vacant land, which can provide large scale and imaginative developments. This new owners’ proposal suggests also the development of sea islands, a subject recently brought up, the development of private marinas etc.
Regrettable Larnaca has not as yet “found itself” on the direction that it wants to go. The disappointed previous foreign investors is not a good reference for new comers, whereas Larnaca is left behind by other areas, which have surpassed it and even that of the Ayia Napa-Famagusta region.
And having said that, we must consider the possibility of a solution to the Cyprus problem. Not in sight as yet, but evidently it will affect all existing and other projects on the way with a lot of unknown factors.
So, there we are, another opportunity to explore by Larnaca people. In order to implement and explore the eastern Larnaca seaside area, it will need time and bearing in mind that it took Limassol over 30 years to reach the stage that it is today, we wonder if it can be done in time for the Larnaca people to benefit. Due to the increase in the value of the properties as a result of the revised zone, the Government is claiming not to pay compensations to the gas/oil Cos for their removal cost, which seems to be a reasonable approach. The cost of funding the basic infrastructure must be taken into consideration if one is to help speed up the development, such as the widening of the Dhekelia road, including the pavement/ walkways/lighting the reclamation of the beach area, the public green development etc. The provision of the 25% extent of each plot for a public green (instead of the ordinary 15%) is not large but perhaps this ±25% could be bought back by the existing owners or others and with the collected money to provide 2-3 large local children parks. We are sure that as the time passes and with the exchange of views, the owners’ proposal can expand with more ideas and knowledge.
In ending, this is Larnaca not Limassol where its people act as one.