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Giving credit where it is due

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From time to time, I visit the old Limassol port and fishing harbour, and I am very pleased to note the revamped project is most successful and operational.

The buildings in the area are of high aesthetic quality and impressive modern architecture, with some overhanging the sea, easy access for pedestrians and the disabled, and relatively low maintenance cost materials.

If you remember, some raised objections, calling themselves “a group of Limassol architects” who wanted the project to be cancelled or drastically altered because buildings behind the project would not offer any view to the sea.

The quality of the stainless steel structures was low and, as such, would rust, and all sorts of other ideas, which had nothing to do with the project.

I think the objections emanated from the fact the project architect came from Nicosia (odd as it may sound, Limassolians prefer native contractors).

I came to learn more recently this group included within its ranks architects who had business relationships with the US Cypriot investor who failed in his bid to lease the entire project.

The landowner (the Cyprus Ports Authority) leased the various units individually at a high rent and a lower risk than a single lot.

I congratulate the Ports Authority and Limassol municipality for turning a deaf ear and proceeding with the project’s completion and operation.

Based on actual results and the visitors’ numbers, it is working.

The success is evident, as is the use of the public square ranging from children’s playground, birthday parties to business promotion and open-air seminars, with an event I attended last October.

As the British say, “proof of the pudding is in the eating”.

So, the project’s success cannot be questioned, and it is one of the few “government” projects that had economic success.

Having said this, has anyone from the objecting “Limassol architects” come back to say: “We are sorry we made a mistake”?

This is not done in Cyprus, not even by politicians (as was the case of the disastrous bail-in and so much more).

I wonder how Cyprus will ever move forward when various people with a different opinion, proven later to be wrong, do not come back for an apology.

The objecting architects’ group accused our office of “not knowing what we were doing” and urged us “to restrict our activities to our valuation of real estate business”.

I replied appropriately.

To fend off unwarranted criticism, I also declared our family origin as third-generation Limassolians.

Perhaps in 2022, we will consider our failings in attracting foreign investors and other worthy projects that benefit the country.

When it comes to criticism, the major issues are the delays caused by bureaucratic procedures and decision making.

Allow me to list projects cancelled or threatened:

  • The multi-million project (Eden) at Yeroskipou was cancelled after six years of the foreign investor waiting and which now will be used as a public beach (which the project would have had anyway).
  • The Larnaca hotel on the Phinikoudes seafront was cancelled due to inexcusable delays.
  • Investors abandoned the Troodos Adventure Park after the Land Registry said it had no time (1½ years) to set the rental level.
  • The St. Raphael marina delays in setting the cost of the lease caused the owner to place full adds of his disappointment in the government delays. Our office was involved, and the details are most shocking – not to mention a delay of 18 months to arrange a meeting.
  • The near cancellation of the Limassol Casino due to the smoking ban within the premises, driven by the psychological state of one of the political party leaders because a family member lost a fortune 50 years ago by playing cards in the village coffee shop.
  • The recent departure of an Indian investor in Cyprus employing 400 people, who packed up and moved to Norway because he could not get an answer on work permits for his staff.
  • Bill Gate’s project in Cyprus was turned away and ended up in Malta.

It is healthy and acceptable to have opposing views and objections by numerous groups, but if they are proven wrong, they should come back to apologise.

But this is not done in Cyprus.