By Antonis Loizou FRICS
Following an initial visit to the area of central Paphos under regeneration in 2016, we visited the project again over the Christmas holidays.
Admittedly a very good effort was made and this central area has been regenerated into a very attractive architectural spot, although it is not yet completed. It is easy to project how this could develop.
To construct a project is one thing (and we add the easy part), but its economic success is another (the difficult part). We noted, therefore, with disappointment that the commercial units of the project are about 80 per cent empty and numerous units are offered to let while the number of visitors is practically non-existent.
During 2016 we submitted our views that the project should have a project manager to follow up on and aim at the commercial success of the project, administration apart.
This project manager should prepare a brochure where the units are recorded, stating the square meters and the facilities provided for each one. The project manager, we said, should appoint two independent valuers to set out the market rents to be submitted to the registered owners for discussion. What would also help:
Organise public activities (see the old Limassol harbour activities) which should aim the project’s promotion and by projection Paphos town in general.
Approach known names in the local market active in other towns as well, whereas newcomers (with special care to Pafian businesses) should be encouraged to commit.
Encourage the establishment of a retail discount store at low prices (along the lines of the new shopping mall in Kokkinotrimithia).
The municipality to do without municipal taxes for a period of two years from the relaunch date.
In coordination with hoteliers and tour operators, as well as the public transport buses, to have scheduled visits to the project, say three times a day, at discounted rates.
To establish the open-air spaces with a clear demarcation who is to use them for the placing of goods or the placing of tables (be it at a cost).
To undertake the constant and regular advertising and promotion of the project in the local TV and press, as well as international media, such as the YouTube, internet etc, on the lines of the Chania harbour in Crete with artists, music/dance schools to be encouraged to use the common areas.
To clarify the situation regarding the Turkish Cyprus ownership and what the tenants’ status will be in the event of their return and demand their properties back.
The preparation of a website where all the activities are to be recorded.
The project to include small outlets and workshops for the preparation of halloumi, lizo, shioushioukkos (major attraction by tourists), as well as handicraft regarding pottery, embroidery, basket weaving etc.
Some large buildings may be suitable for conversion into young people’s studios (or the basis of Montmartre’s style) where existing building regulations could be relaxed e.g. unit sizes, parking requirement etc and including the use of the period lets of the Airbnb style.
The attraction of the project is its size and availability of parking, but despite its evident attraction, this is not enough. The project has all the prerequisites for success, both in terms of location and availability of nearby facilities, but it needs a lot of work to come a business success and if the project is left as is it will most likely acquire a “bad” commercial name, something which is most difficult to overcome in the future.