The Old Larnaca City and its Prospects
It is noticeable how city centres can change from “one day to another”. Larnaca town, the “poor” city of all towns, which is partially due to its unfortunate vocal pressure groups and some Municipal corruption, has been left behind in its development.
The very recent upgrade of the original town with numerous infrastructural projects, the development of parking facilities, the Makenzy area/Ayios Lazaros square and the extensive sandy beach is an attraction as are the other commercial projects which are being developed. The Quality Group (see recent exhibition on the multiple project across the Police State), Cyfield, as well as others on a smaller scale) are doing wonders in the market with near the beach apartments now selling at high prices and with limited supply (whereas the Larnaca port/Marina does not seem to be happening). A lot of hope is placed on the Larnaca eastern development area (where the oil tanks are just moving) 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 seaside road which needs improvement, now with no lights/pavements/bicycle paths etc and again it is being held back for years due to the local people objections (no excuse at all).
What is notable is the development of small boutique hotels within the old center, which are close to the beach and the establishment of trendy cafes/restaurant areas (whereas the most expected Russian multi storey hotel at the Phoenicoudes road will 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.
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/Hoirokitia/Vavla etc for the more culture explorers. A recent TV program by an international channel on the more distant villages of Larnaca – approximately 20 minutes’ drive, devoted itself to a local dish “ttavas” and the program presenters gave the “well done” to local restaurants home cooking with some of the “old girls” cooks being invited to teach the dish preparation abroad. With the new high scale projects under way, when completed (approximately 1-2 years’ time) the commerciality of the old town should improve, but it is noticeable the difference of demand for shops with differences for the very heart of the town area (e.g. St. Lazaros) to the more traditional high street units.
Larnaca has the lowest price range of real estate in its periphery, such as Mazotos/ Pervolia/Oroklini/Pyla etc, whereas living at Larnaca and with reference to food and drinks (our favorite subject) there are some notable trendy bars and other establishments at the St. Lazaros square and some classic quality restaurants along the seaside road not necessarily touristic in nature as such. We paid particular attention to the local Italian restaurant as well as the one with a Greek cuisine (not widely known in Cyprus – see fried fetta with nuts and honey on top etc etc) worth paying a visit at the Archontiko restaurant. 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 the most known Japanese restaurant (Nippon – more like a sushi-Japanese), whereas with the number of Chinese real estate investors (their favorite town) it will not be long when Chinese restaurants will appear.
In terms of real estate prices quality apartments range from €2.000-€5.000/sq.m. (the higher end closer to the beach and almost €7.000/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/sq.m.) and at the Protaras region on €6.000-€7.000/sq.m. and of €3.000/sq.m. (near beach) the difference in prices is evident.
So Larnaca has good potential for further development much of which will depend on the execution of the described projects, but more particularly the Larnaca marina-port long awaited development (which seems that there is no development prospects at this point of time). These lower prices and the town proximity to the airport and Nicosia has only recently attracted the attraction of the foreign market in volume, whose interest comes from Chinese visa seekers, an increasing interest by Nicosia town’s people (limited demand) and others such as the ex-eastern block countries. At some point of time Iranians paid particular attention to this town, but with the embargo their interest has died down.
The new Larnaca Mayor and his 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 if 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 somewhat dilapidated area. On the subject, Larnaca seems to have a good percentage of real estate ownership to the Turkish Cypriots and this is one of the obstacles for renovation (politics and other parameters apart).
So pay some attention to Larnaca and if things move upwards as they have been for the recent years, the town will experience a fast improvement, faster than other towns, making it potentially an attractive investment.