He does not stop repeating that “the next decade belongs to Larnaca” and that if the momentum is properly planned and utilized, the development will be rapid and the benefits enormous for the residents.
The president of the Larnaca Chamber of Commerce and Industry (LCCI), Stavros Stavrou, in an interview with “F”, explains the reasons why such great growth prospects were opened up for the city, while warning of the dangers that lurk if the effort made is not supported.
“I’m not saying that the next decade belongs to Larnaca, because it sounds nice. The circumstances are here, but we must take advantage of them. Larnaca was slow to start developing compared to other cities, but this may turn out to be good in the end. The only people who can stop the development are the people of Larnaka themselves and I ask them not to do so. We have to be a punch to achieve what the city deserves.”
Two huge projects will essentially form the basis for the new Larnaca and these are the development of the area of the former refineries and the redevelopment of the port and marina, for which the LCCI had exerted a lot of pressure in recent years. Regarding the area from where the oil tanks were moved, Mr. Stavrou noted that the plans are ambitious and that private companies are already preparing models in order to attract foreign investors.
“I believe that no one can imagine what development can be done on three kilometers of coastal front, because it has simply not been done before. There will be billions of euros of investment in the region, in the long term of course. There is no magic wand to make them overnight. The initial plans we have seen are excellent, both for public works and for private ones. There are far-reaching plans, but they have to be done right. Everyone should not arbitrarily start doing what they want. My own view is that Larnaca should be modernised, but that its character should not be changed. Sure, there will be tall buildings in the area, but we hope not to see another Limassol. We want growth to be done step by step to be healthy. Grandiose plans with the naturalization program, in my view, did not bring healthy growth.”
In order to be able to implement, however, the Area Plan that has been prepared, the Seveso directive, which remains in force, must be terminated because not all LPG companies have moved, which has begun to cause great discomfort to the city’s stakeholders. “Only EKO is left that is lagging behind and must leave so that the region can develop,” Mr. Stavrou pointed out.
Port and marina development assurances
The president of LCCI did not hesitate to refer to the whispers of concern that began to be heard recently in Larnaca, about the development of the port and the marina.
“I’m not hiding from you that there is some delay and that we hear a lot. That is why I called the director of the consortium at the LCCI, who said that there is some delay, because they are trying to bring some plans from the second to the first phase, in order to connect Finikoudes with the port. Fortunately, work has begun on the listed quay. We hope that everything will go well and we will see the big projects begin. It is a EUR 1.2 billion project, which will not be done overnight either.
The completion of the project, which is of very high standards, will mean a lot to Larnaca. In the port there will be neither dust nor nuisance. One of the reasons we wanted both to be given to the same investor, was to have a mutual benefit to him to keep the port at a high level, because it will be next to his marina.”
“We want to attract young people to the centre”
Asked about the vehement complaints about the construction of the mall, which resulted in the “killing” of the Larnaca shopping center, Mr. Stavrou replied that it was a project that needed to be done.
“The development of a city cannot be stopped. A mall had to be made in Larnaca district. Larnaca, due to the weather, is also ideal for an outdoor “mall” which is our center. However, incentives must be given for shopkeepers to understand whether they need to convert their businesses. This conversion to what is feasible to work had to be done before the mall. We will have to get experts to tell us what will work in this particular area. If a city moves forward, it does not mean that its character changes. Once upon a time, Larnaca was filled with shops selling fabrics. If they were there today, would those shops work? What I am saying is that we have to find the next step and we have to let the young people, who are thinking outside the box, tell us their ideas. At the end of the day, we want to attract young people to the centre.”
Other sectors that will bring growth to Larnaca, according to the president of LCCI, are tourism, as well as attracting foreign companies. “I urge land developers to start building offices in Larnaca. There are many companies from abroad that are expressing interest in moving their offices and we don’t have one. Limassol is saturated and they are looking for Larnaca and they can’t find it.”
Total growth of Finikoudes
The puzzle of the development of the port and the marina will be completed in the same area with the total redevelopment of the coastal front of Finikoudes, about the condition of which the president of LCCI has long been crying out.
“We started well with Finikoudes and along the way it became a jungle of constructions. We need to return to uniformity, as is done in other cities in the style of Larnaca. Some may laugh at it, but as you enter Cannes and see a uniform beachfront, so it should be in Larnaca. In recent years, we have made the big mistake of downgrading Finikoudes to develop other areas. A big mistake that was made was during the previous mayoralty, when a decision was made to move the Christmas tree from Europe Square to Ermou Square. This is unheard of, in what other country has it been done? After five years, the tree came back, however, the damage was done. There is also a bus stop in the middle of Finikoudes. You can’t drink your coffee and instead of seeing the sea you see buses and parked cars.”
“Larnaca 2030” is a big challenge
In parallel with the major projects, Larnaca, as it is known, is feverishly preparing for the nomination of the European Capital of Culture in 2030. The president of LCCI, who is a member of the Board of Directors of the company “Larnaca 2030”, which was established to promote the candidacy of the city, also referred to the processes for this great project.
“It is a very big project in 2030, a lot of work is being done and even more is needed,” he noted, adding that if the city gets the nomination beyond the development of cultural sectors, there will be great benefits in tourism as well. “It’s a big challenge that we hope to achieve, because it puts Larnaca on another map.”