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Cyprus building up September 25, 2007

Posted by grhomeboy in Architecture Cyprus, Cyprus News.
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Building permits in Cyprus rose in the six-month period to June 5.3 percent in terms of area and 17.3 percent in terms of value year-on-year, the Cyprus’ Statistics Department said yesterday.

For the month of June building permits in terms of area fell by 1.7 percent and increased by 6.8 percent in terms of value year-on-year.

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Ayia Napa sets sights on new marina September 22, 2007

Posted by grhomeboy in Architecture Cyprus, Cyprus Ayia Napa, Cyprus News.
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Ayia Napa is aiming to build a recreational marina in a bid to promote tourism in the area and bring a different range of visitors to the village.

According to the consortium, which comprises of private companies as well as the Famagusta Chamber of Commerce, the marina is to be built in the Louma area close to the Ayia Thekla church. The marina is set to hold a capacity of 600 boats of which 360 will be on the water and 240 will be docked on the pier.

Despite the relatively small size of the marina, officials are planning to extend the area and also construct buildings for various administrations such as police, customs, fire services as well as a warehouse for boats and a large parking space for cars.

Apartments overlooking the marina are also planned, as well as a futsal pitch, tennis court, shops, restaurants, swimming pools, a cinema and other recreational facilities, said Famagusta Chamber of Commerce secretary Iacovos Hadjivarnavas.

Yesterday, the consortium, which is aiming to secure government approval by next year, held a meeting at the Ayia Napa Municipality. Ayia Napa Mayor Antonis Tsokkos said that the government is still in the process of sorting out similar plans for the marina in Limassol but that he was hopeful that the new Ayia Napa marina plans will be next on the table.

“At this moment in time, the consortium is in discussions with the government and nothing has been signed yet”, he said. “The government is currently looking at the Limassol marina and we hope that the work for the Ayia Napa marina will be signed by some time next summer.”

Speaking about the impact the new marina would have on tourism in the area, he added, “The consortium’s aim for the new marina is a vision that is shared by the Municipality and it is a great chance for us to bring different ranges of tourism to the area for all seasons.”

Action necessary on Cyprus building boom September 14, 2007

Posted by grhomeboy in Architecture Cyprus.
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Authorities in Cyprus need to take prudent new measures to tame a construction boom that threatens the soundness of the country’s banking system just as it is about to adopt the euro, economists said.

Despite a newly reduced ceiling on lending for holiday-home buyers, bank credit grew in August by an annual 25 percent, as investors sought to beat the introduction of value-added tax to land sales from the end of this year.

The availability of cheap loans that has been stoking the construction boom could even increase when Cyprus joins the eurozone in January since the bloc’s interest rates are currently half a percentage point lower than those of Cyprus.

“There is currently a bubble in the real estate market, comparable to what we had at the stock exchange between 1999 and 2000,” said Yiannis Telonis from Hellenic Bank. However, he cautioned that construction was the economy’s locomotive at present, and there would be negative consequences if it were slowed down too abruptly. “It is not up to the Central Bank to fix this problem. It is an issue of the government’s general economic, development and social policy,” he said.

Economist Marios Mavrides said imposing a property tax could go some way to addressing the problem, as could halving the island’s capital gains tax to 10 percent to make alternative investments more attractive. “But if they take too drastic action, property prices will suffer and so will mortgages,” he added.

Central Bank Governor Athanasios Orphanides warned yesterday of probable risks for the banking system, should credit expansion persist as a result of local banks competing intensely to boost profits and market share.

According to price tracker BuySell Home Price Index, house prices increased 9.7 percent in July year-on-year and 1.8 percent compared to June. The average lending rate for housing loans has fallen since Cyprus’s EU accession in May 2004 from 7.3 percent to 5.94 percent in July this year.

Mavrides said he could not rule out a scenario similar to that of the US subprime loans mess, and a repetition of 2002 and 2003, when Cypriot bank results were battered by exposure to a poorly performing stock market. Mavrides said a speculative bubble behind property inflation was mainly rooted in VAT introduction. It was introduced on buildings in 2004, and will apply to land sales from 2008.

Once the VAT target date was passed, Mavrides said demand for real estate was likely to decrease as investors took more account of price-to-income ratios in assessing the value of real estate deals. Mavrides said there was a danger that in two or three years clients would experience difficulties in paying back their debts. “The expected decrease in interest rates as a result of euro adoption will not be able to offset the decrease in demand,” he said.

Mavrides’s views on the effect of lending on the banks’ profitability are not shared by bankers. “We are not concerned that the quality of our asset portfolio will be affected as we have not relaxed the criteria for the approval of new loans we introduced years ago,” Yiannis Kypri from Bank of Cyprus said. The Bank of Cyprus policy followed Central Bank guidelines and offered the bank a protective “cushion” to offset risks of a probable decline in property price, Kypri added.

In 2006 the direct contribution of the construction sector to the island’s GDP was 7.5 percent. One in 10 Cypriots worked in the construction industry in 2004.

Mall of Cyprus to open end-September September 6, 2007

Posted by grhomeboy in Architecture Cyprus, Shopping.
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A 100 million euros investment by Shacolas owned ITTL > The Mall of Cyprus, the biggest shopping mall on the island, will open its doors for business on September 27 promising to change the retail trade environment and incorporating many new features.

“It’s a dream come true,” said entrepreneur Nicos Shacolas at the official launch of operations of the Mall of Cyprus, which has become a reality after 26 years of planning, hard work, huge investments and most of all vision. “The idea came to me while on a visit to Canada where I was impressed by the shopping malls there and after I came back to Cyprus, I started work on the project,” said Shacolas at a press briefing in Nicosia on the launch of operations.

The Mall of Cyprus is the flagship of the Shacolas Emporium Park spanning an area of 27.000 sq. metres, which will house 31 shops, ten cafés and fast food restaurants, five cinema screens, a children’s playing ground and parking space for 1,500 cars, of which 1,100 are covered. The Mall of Cyprus will also house the first Carrefour store to open in Nicosia. Next door, IKEA will open its own store this week on land leased from ITTL, the owners of the mall.

“IKEA will pay ITTL a royalty based on sales or a guaranteed rent, whichever is higher,” said Shacolas who also thanked the owners of Zara in Cyprus who are opening eight shops, the Fourlis Group, K-Cineplex Cinemas and other partners including McDonald’s, Pizza Hut, TGI Fridays, Gloria Jeans Coffees and Starbucks franchise operators who have rented space at the mall.

ITTL Chairman Kyriakos Christophi said the Mall of Cyprus cost the Group 100 million euros in investments in addition to the land, which was financed through the German Eurohypo Bank and by own funds committed by the Shacolas Group.

Mall of Cyprus General Manager Marios Chyromerides said the project took three years to complete and incorporates state of the art systems and is environmental friendly. Chyromerides said the shops within the mall will operate the same working hours according to the relevant legislation in place but the cafes, restaurants and cinemas will be open from 9am until 1am.

These include Debenhams and Next, Carrefour, Zara and Zara Home, Bershka, Pull & Bear, Mango, Intersport (Fourlis), Public, Early Learning Centre, a Food Court with TGIF’s, kiosks and speciality shops. Adjacent to the Mall of Cyprus is the DIY Home Centre that has already become a focal point for shoppers. Shacolas said every effort is being made to convince the authorities to agree to extended shopping hours for the benefit of consumers, who will want to enjoy the Mall of Cyprus experience.

Cushman & Wakefield, one of the world’s largest real estate consultancy firms are the managers of the mall. Company representative Philip Evans said vision, planning, implementation based on knowledge and experience as well as co-creation of value are the key ingredients to having a successful shopping mall. The Mall of Cyprus will create value for the local area, for the city of Nicosia and for the whole of Cyprus, he said.

Another newcomer to Cyprus that will be making a debut at the mall is Public, the books, music, games and peripherals store that already operates three outlets in Greece and plans to open the Nicosia store by the end of the year. The 1,900 sq.m. store will include sections for books, music, audio and video CDs and DVDs, computers, mobile phones, photography and gaming.

The holding company, PublicWorld SA, has already hired as many as 180 staff for all levels of work, from mid-management department heads, to marketing and sales, as well as engineers, cashiers and store keepers. Public also attracts customers through its marketing gimmicks such as ‘in-store’ events, music downloading and surfing the Internet.

Old Nicosia gets restoration award September 6, 2007

Posted by grhomeboy in Architecture Cyprus.
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The rehabilitation of the Walled City of Nicosia is one of nine projects, which on Tuesday won the 2007 Aga Khan Award for Architecture.

The nine will share the 385,000 euro award given once every three years by the Aga Khan Development Network, a group of agencies that seek to improve living conditions. The network is headed by Aga Khan, the spiritual leader of the Shi’ite Ismaili Muslims, a community of 15 million people living in 25 countries.

The Aga Khan Award for Architecture was established by the Aga Khan in 1977 to identify and encourage building concepts that successfully address the needs and aspirations of Muslim societies. The award recognises examples of architectural excellence in all the places where Muslims live, in the fields of contemporary design, social housing, community improvement and development, historic preservation, reuse and area conservation, as well as landscape design and improvement of the environment.

In 1979, representatives of the Greek Cypriot and Turkish Cypriot communities held a historic meeting under United Nations auspices to create a master plan for the Rehabilitation of the Walled City of Nicosia.

According to a press release, it has been a “collaborative and sustained effort and has been successful in reversing the city’s physical and economic decline, using architectural restoration and reuse as the catalyst for improvement to the quality of life on both sides of this divided city. The representatives of the Greek Cypriot and Turkish Cypriot communities will share the award with the Nicosia Master Plan team.”

The work undertaken was part of the Nicosia Master Plan, a collaboration between Nicosia Municipality, the Interior Ministry’s Department of Town Planning and Housing and UNDP.

Malaysia’s Prime Minister Abdullah Ahmad Badawi announced the awards at a ceremony in the Dewan Philharmonic Hall of the Petronas Twin Towers, which won the award in 2004.

Nicosia Mayor Eleni Mavrou was in Kuala Lumpur for the awards and yesterday could not be reached for comments.

Tenders for Cyprus multi-million projects opened August 1, 2007

Posted by grhomeboy in Architecture Cyprus, Architecture Infrastructure.
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Bids for two multi-million infrastructure projects, a motorway on the north-west of the island and further development of Larnaca port and its marina, were opened by the Ministry of Communications and Works.

Minister Maria Malahtou-Pampalli said the 31 km Paphos-to-Polis Chrysochou motorway is expected to be completed in just over four years, at an estimated cost of CyP 180 million, (309 million euro) or about CyP 5,8 million (9,9 million euro) per kilometre. The four-lane motorway will include side roads linking the main motorway to other destinations in the area, nine uneven junctions, seven flyover bridges to bypass valleys and two tunnels. There will also be 25 underground and two overground passages to restore the existing road network which could be affected from the construction.

“This is a very important project for the city and the district of Paphos as it will provide easy and safe access to the town and the north-western region, something that gives new prospects for tourist development,” the Minister said as she opened the four bids. The successful bidder is expected to be announced by the end of the year.

On the Larnaca port and marina project, the Minister said this is the biggest infrastructure project in the town, barring the international airport of the city.

“Once the project is completed Larnaca will become the main passenger port in Cyprus and large cruisers will be able to moor there. About 1,000 vessels will be able to berth at the marina, in addition to 400 the marina can serve at present, and be provided with high quality facilities,” she said.

Three joint ventures have placed bids for this project, which is expected to be completed in different phases, encompassing development of the port, the marina, construction of infrastructure works and other facilities. At present, officials have said that it is very difficult to assess the overall cost of the Larnaca project or estimate the time of completion.

Larnaca port tenders August 1, 2007

Posted by grhomeboy in Architecture Cyprus, Business & Economy, Tourism.
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Cyprus yesterday announced the submission of three tenders for the development and expansion of Larnaca marina and port by private investors.

Vouros Investments Ltd, the Larnaca-Zenon joint venture and D.J. Karapatakis and Sons Ltd were the three consortiums who submitted bids, Communications and Works Minister Maria Malaktou-Pampalli told a news conference in Nicosia.

“Once the project is completed Larnaca port will become the main passenger port in Cyprus and large cruisers will be able to moor there,” Malaktou-Pampalli said. “This will be the biggest infrastructure project in Larnaca after the new international airport,” she added referring to the new 600 million terminal due to be completed in 2009.

The Minister said that around 1,000 vessels would be able to berth at the new Larnaca marina compared with the 400 it can handle today. The project, which has been in the pipeline for 13 years, envisages the new marina being up and running by the end of 2010, the Ministry’s Permanent Secretary Makis Constantinidis told Reuters.

He said it was hard to put an estimate on the cost of the multimillion project as it would also encompass development of Larnaca port into a passenger terminal as part of a second phase. Constantinidis was also unable to cite the capacity of the new passenger terminal. “It’s a unified project and it’s going to be, the contractor’s baby,” he said. “It will be up to them and hopefully if everything goes well, we will make a decision by the end of the year.”