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Larnaca’s great unknown potential

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It is noticeable how city centres can change from one day to another, so to speak.  Larnaca, the “poor” relative of all towns, partly due to its unfortunate vocal pressure groups and some municipal corruption in the past, has been left behind in its development.

The very recent upgrade of the original town with numerous infrastructure projects, the development of parking facilities, the Makenzy beach area and Ayios Lazaros square with its surroundings, as well as the extensive sandy Phinikoudes beach is an attraction as are the other commercial projects which are being developed.

The Quality Group, Cyfield, as well as other developers on a smaller scale, are doing wonders in the market with near-beach apartments now selling at high prices and with limited supply. Unfortunately, the Larnaca port and marina does not seem to be happening any time soon, depriving the ‘City of Kition’ with residential units and a yacht marina.

A lot of hope is now placed on Larnaca’s eastern development area, where the fuel storage tanks used to be, and the local master plan (the much-awaited planning parameters), in order to turn this downgraded location into a Limassol-type seaside promenade with high rise buildings (and high building density) ranging from hotels to offices and quality apartments.  Things are moving very slowly for this project, however, and one of the main limitations for us is the coastal road which needs improvement, now with no lights or pavements, no bicycle paths etc. Once again, it is being held back for years due to objections from some local people.

What is notable is the development of small boutique hotels within the old town centre, which are close to the beach and the establishment of trendy cafes and restaurant areas, while the Russian-owned multi-storey hotel and office complex at the heart of the Phinikoudes strip was supposed to help to a good extent.

The old town, due to its stagnation over the years, has retained part of its charm and character and although we have our doubts on the feasibility of such boutique hotels, they seem to be helped by the “fashionable” and profitable Airbnb lets.

Walking distance

Larnaca is the only town on the beach within walking distance to a wide and sandy beach, the apartment buildings sell at reasonable prices, as compared to other towns, some which are and have been renovated, whereas those residents who are mobile with a car can visit some more distant villages, such as Lefkara, Chirokitia, Vavla etc for the more culture explorers.

A recent TV programme by an international channel on the more distant villages of Larnaca, approximately 20 minutes’ drive, devoted itself to a local stew, the “ttavas”, and the program presenters gave the “thumbs up” to local restaurants’ home cooking with some of the “old girls” from the villages acting as cooks to teach the dish preparation abroad.

With the new high scale projects under way, when completed (in 1-2 years’ time) the commerciality of the old town should improve, but there is a noticeable difference of demand for shops in the very heart of the town area (e.g. St. Lazaros) to the more traditional high street units, whereas the Metropolis Mall has done damage to the old-town commercial area.

Larnaca has the lowest price range of real estate in its periphery, such as Mazotos, Pervolia, Oroklini, Pyla, etc, whereas living in Larnaca and with reference to food and drinks (our favorite subject) there are some notable trendy bars and other establishments around the St. Lazaros square and some classic quality restaurants along the seaside road, not necessarily touristic in nature.

We paid particular attention to the local Italian restaurant as well as the one with a Greek cuisine (not widely known in Cyprus – with fried fetta with nuts and honey on top) worth paying a visit at the Archontiko.  For the fish lovers pay a visit to the Makenzy beach area, but as it happens in most successful places and especially during the summer holidays, make a reservation.  Larnaca has also one of the most well-known Japanese Asian-fusion restaurants, whereas with the number of Chinese real estate investors (their favourite town) it will not be long when Chinese restaurants also appear.

In terms of real estate prices quality apartments range €2,000-€5,000/sq.m. (the higher end closer to the beach0 and almost €10,000/sq.m. on the seaside road, and for individual houses in the periphery having a sale price of €2,000-€3,000/sq.m.

Comparing these prices with Limassol (beach units at €15,000-€20,000/sq.m.) and in the Protaras area at €7,000-€8,000/sq.m., the difference in prices is evident.

Great potential

So, Larnaca has great potential for further development much of which will depend on the execution of the described projects, but more particularly the long awaited Larnaca marina-port development.   These lower prices and the town proximity to the airport and to the capital Nicosia has only recently attracted the foreign markets, whose interest comes from Chinese visa seekers, an increasing interest by Nicosia residents (limited demand) and others such as the former-eastern bloc countries.  At some point, some Iranians had paid particular attention to this town, but the embargo stopped this and their interest has died down.

The re-elected Larnaca Mayor and his town council seem to be quite proactive in tidying the town and pushing for restoration of the aged, but architecturally interesting buildings such as the old Municipal market, whereas some attention is paid to the Turkish sector which resembles Greek island comprising small terraced housing development, will bring new life to the so far dilapidated area.

On the subject, Larnaca seems to have a good percentage of real estate ownership by Turkish Cypriots and this is one of the obstacles for renovation (politics and other parameters apart).

So, pay attention to Larnaca and if things move forward, the town will experience a fast improvement, faster than other towns, making it potentially an attractive investment.

 

By Antonis Loizou F.R.I.C.S. – Antonis Loizou & Associates EPE – Real Estate Valuers, Property Consultants & Estate Agents

www.aloizou.com.cy

[email protected]