The Mayor of Limassol, Nikos Nikolaidis, opens his documents to “F” and reveals his vision of the city, emphasizing that it remains the engine of the Cypriot economy. He refers to projects of strategic importance, as well as six important urban development projects that are experiencing delays for one reason or another, and indicates that procedures for their implementation should be started immediately.
He notes that the course of the city’s development depends on the publication of the revised City Center Area Plan and the immediate start of infrastructure projects in the area between the marina and the New Port, emphasizing that there should be no further delays in this master plan. and flagship project. Due to delays in the start of infrastructure projects, Mr. Nikolaidis notes, the area has not been used for years, despite the fact that some construction projects have already begun from private sector developments. He also explains that there is interest in billions of dollars of investment pending publication of the Regional Plan.
Nikos Nikolaides remains a tireless, hard-working, but above all forward-thinking city that has nothing to envy of other major European capitals. As he mentions in Sunday’s “F” newspaper, Limassol is on a development path. Asked if he was satisfied with the work done over the past five years, the mayor gave a positive sign to the municipality and the municipal council, emphasizing that the city continues to develop despite two difficult years. pandemics. He adds that the vast majority of the announced projects have been implemented or are in the process of being implemented.
– Mr. Mayor, after the pandemic, can Limassol continue to be the main force in the development of our country?
– In the post-pandemic era, when the recovery of the Cypriot economy is of paramount importance, Limassol is called upon to continue to play the role of the engine of the Cypriot economy. Our city can take on this role because, despite the blows of the pandemic and the war in Ukraine, it still retains the characteristics that made it an important business center for Cyprus and the region as a whole. These features are linked to Limassol’s unique and multi-layered business ecosystem, which is characterized by brilliance, extroversion and dynamism, and at the same time high quality professional services, low cost of doing business and important infrastructure (port, marinas). and etc.).
– Are there projects of strategic importance for Limassol, and which ones?
– At this critical moment in the recovery process of the Cypriot economy, it is extremely important to promote some strategically important projects in our city, which for one reason or another are delayed. Of these projects, the most decisive for the further development of Limassol is undoubtedly the development of the coastline between the Marina and the New Port. The development of this last waterfront within the city limits of Limassol is a unique historic opportunity for a new city within our city itself that will have the most modern, innovative, human-friendly elements as it can be designed from the ground up. Unfortunately, it is high time to publish a revised territorial plan, which will indicate the urban planning data for this development. While some private developments have already begun their construction projects in the area, there are billions of euros in investment intentions pending this Plan. It would not be an exaggeration to say that the course of the city’s development depends to a very large extent on the immediate publication of the territorial plan and the immediate start of infrastructure works such as roads, embankments and beach works, utilities, etc.
The second highly strategic Limassol development project is the Pentakomos Technology Park, which after a tender for interested investors in 2016 remains practically stagnant. In an era when innovation and new technologies are the driving force behind development at the international level, the lack of a technology park is an obstacle for our country and especially for our city, where there is a huge potential for development in these sectors that remain untapped.
Related to development and technology issues is the Cyprus Technological University (TEPAK), whose development is affected by the lack of progress on the second pole (Old Hospital, First Technical School). TEPAK risks being stuck until the second pole is implemented and partial solutions are sought for new programs and students outside of Limassol, where the university is based.
Another strategically important for tourism and cultural infrastructure of the city is the modernization of the old or the construction of a new Archaeological Museum. The Limassol Municipality has made proposals and the decision rests with the competent ministry. We note with satisfaction the political decision to allocate a fund of around 30 million euros to a project that Limassol has been asking for and waiting for for many years.
– What other major urban projects are being promoted in Limassol?
There are 6 important urban development projects that, for various reasons, are not progressing at the pace that we would like, and we expect all relevant services to work faster and more efficiently.
Restoration of Agia Fylaxeos (Phases B and C), which will complete a very important road axis for the city. The project has been the subject of discussions about the intersection of Lanitey streets, and we are waiting for the initiative from the competent minister to provide solutions and move the project forward.
Reconstruction of Eagora Lanitis West, a project of high traffic and flood protection importance, in which the Department of Public Works is partnering with SALA.
Linking the Coastal Avenue to Franklin D. Roosevelt (Phase B), a project of critical importance to the development of western Limassol, which has faced commercial real estate relocation issues.
Agia Phyla land center bypass road, a project implemented by our municipality and promoting its regulation plan.
The northern bypass, which will connect Giannou Kranidiotis with the Fasoula road, is a traffic critical project that the authorities should pay more attention to.
– Another big challenge for Limassol is that it is included in the list of 100 cities that will participate in the European Cities Mission. What are these programs?
– The inclusion of Limassol in the list of 100 climate neutral and smart cities of the European Union has been a huge success for our municipality. This is a program that can take Limassol to a completely new trajectory and radically change it. These 100 cities will aim to become climate neutral and smart cities by 2030, not 2050 as the European target for other cities. In order to make this possible, the EU, with a very strong focus on climate change, intends to fund programs and activities with hundreds of millions of euros that will be competitively requested by these 100 cities. These programs will be related to sectors such as energy, waste management, transport, construction, etc., which will be aimed at significantly improving the quality of life of citizens. Our municipality has already started procedures for concluding cooperation agreements with universities, research institutes in Cyprus, as well as with cities in other countries participating in the program.
– Limassol is developing into a major sports center?
– In recent years, after being awarded the title of European city of sports, the city has been developing into a center for organizing international sports events. Let me mention the organization of the Category 3 European Championship 2021, the recent organization of the very successful First International Sports Meeting 2022 and of course the planned very large organization of the EuroBasket 2025 final phase. All these events are, of course, the result of the very good sports and hotel infrastructure of the city, but also its huge sports history, as well as the very good work done by our municipality in popularizing mass sports and sports culture among our fellow citizens.
We work for a city with quality characteristics
– Are you satisfied with the projects implemented in this five-year period? Is there anything you have done that you would change if you had the opportunity to go back to it?
– The last five years have been a very difficult period, marked by an unprecedented pandemic that has affected everyone: people, families, businesses and, of course, local government. We as a municipality have had to adjust our plans, our budgets and our priorities. We have worked very hard to not only respond to the new needs of our citizens caused by the pandemic, but also to maintain the key projects and momentum of our city. An objective observer will give us a very positive sign over the past five years, especially considering that what we announced 5 years ago, the vast majority of them have either been implemented or are on the way to implementation. When we were asked if we would have done something differently,
– What are your ambitions and your vision for Limassol in 2024?
– My vision for Limassol is to continually take steps towards the goal of a modern city that is technologically advanced, supportive of business, but above all a city of high quality for its residents. Projects and developments are a means of improving the daily life of citizens, culture, landscaping, social cohesion. This is also the main concept of development and I believe that Limassol is following this path.
– Nikos Nikolaidis is a person who is criticized, how do you react to those who try to nullify your work?
– There can be no proper and democratic functioning of society without public debate, accountability and control of every authority and institution. This reality cannot be denied or diminished by any of the barren critiques or nihilistic positions that will always exist in an open society, especially in an age of social media freedom.
-Return to big events after the pandemic. Is the municipality ready to stand out again?
-After two relatively barren years due to the pandemic, Limassol is feverishly preparing to return to major cultural events in spectacular fashion. Our municipality, municipal council and cultural services are working feverishly to compensate and surprise our compatriots, starting with the Wine Festival, which will be organized this year from 17 to 25 September. And, of course, the Limassol Carnival 2023 will follow, which we promise will be truly unique.
Construction of 600 affordable housing units
-Apart from the projects of strategic importance that the government is expected to plan, what other major projects have progressed in Limassol over the past 5 years?
– In my opinion, the three most important projects promoted over the past 5 years. Firstly, these are flood control works carried out by SALA. These are projects worth more than 30 million euros, after which, around the end of 2023, our city will receive the flood protection that it has needed for many years. Citizens who live or have business in the city center and other vulnerable areas will finally stop suffering every time it rains in our city.
The second is the development of the districts of Limassol, which was our main political statement. Over the past 5 years, dozens of large and small projects have been implemented or are being promoted. The areas of our city, from Agia Fyla to Zakaki and from Agios Spyridon to Agios Nikolaos, have begun to change, and a new quality of life is being created for the people of Limassol.
The third project, which is also the largest social intervention to be carried out in our country by the local authorities, is an ambitious project to build 600 affordable housing units in cooperation with KOAG in three municipal blocks in Agios Nikolas and Agios Ioannis. This project will enable hundreds of families to have decent housing, which would otherwise be impossible due to the very high prices to buy or rent in our city. At the same time, an influx of 600 affordable homes into the real estate market will have a catalytic effect on price containment. The project will begin this year and is expected to be completed within five years.