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Paphos regeneration lacks spark

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Following my initial visit to review the heart of Paphos central area regeneration in 2016, I visited the project again during the Christmas holidays.

A particularly good effort has been made.

This main area has been regenerated into a very attractive project regarding architecture.

However, it is not yet completed with the old market still in the ownership of the local Bishopric and other obstacles.

However, it is evident that the project is already attractive, and it is easy to project how this could develop.

To construct a project is one thing (the easy part), but its economic success is another.

I noted with disappointment that the commercial units of the project are practically 80% empty are offered to let, and visitors are practically non-existent, even though parts of the area were bustling, albeit briefly, during the summer holidays in August.

In 2016, I wrote after my visit, suggesting the entire regeneration area should have a project manager, to follow through and focus on its commercial success.

This project manager should prepare a brochure where the public units are available, stating the area size and the facilities provided for each one.

They would also appoint two independent valuers to set the market rents to be submitted to the registered owners for review.

This rental assessment should not be rigid but have some margin for negotiation, with a maximum variation of ±20%, and re-examined at intervals, depending on its success or otherwise.

What else can be done?

  • Organise public activities (as in the old Limassol harbour) to promote the project and Paphos town.
  • Approach well-known brands in the local market, such as popular franchises, taverns, food stores, active in other towns (see Nicosia’s Ledra street, the Castle square in Limassol), whereas newcomers should be encouraged to commit.
  • Encourage the establishment of retail discount stores at low prices or ‘outlet’ type shopping malls, as at the Neo Plaza near Kokkinotrimithia.
  • The municipality should freeze local taxes for two years from the relaunch date to incentivise young and traditional entrepreneurs.
  • In coordination with the hotels and tour operators and public transport, to have regular stops or tours of the project at discounted rates, say three times a day.
  • Establish the open-air spaces with a clear demarcation of who is to use them to place goods or tables. It is better to charge a fee than draw ‘red lines’ over which owners and operators often fight for control.
  • Undertake constant and regular advertising and promotion of the project in the media, similar to what Chania harbour area has done in Crete, and encourage financial assistance by the municipality and others, whereas artists, music/dance schools to be encouraged to use the communal areas for free performances.
  • To clarify the situation regarding the use of Turkish Cypriot properties and the tenants’ status in the event of the original owners’ return.
  • The design of a website.
  • The project should include small outlets and workshops to prepare traditional products such as local halloumi, shioushioukkos, handicraft pottery, embroidery, and basket weaving.
  • Some large buildings may be suitable for conversion into young people’s studios (similar to Montmartre) where existing building regulations could be relaxed, e.g., unit sizes and parking requirements, including the use of lets Airbnb style. This will need the guidance of the project manager to provide a financial analysis of potential uses, especially from student-tenants coming from the local Neapolis and other universities in the pipeline (AUB campus and TEPAK branch).

Many other ideas could come through dialogue, and I wish I could have had a chat with a point-person at the municipality, but with whom?

I tried to speak to someone on the subject and, after being passed over to three different officials, ended up with the mayor’s secretary, and I’m waiting for a callback.

The project’s attraction is its size and abundance of parking, but this is not enough.

It has all the prerequisites for success, both in terms of location and availability of nearby facilities, but it needs a lot of work for business success.

If the project is left as it is, it will be neglected and acquire a bad commercial reputation, something which is most difficult to overcome.

Antonis Loizou Real Estate Valuer, Estate Agent & Property Consultant