How successful will the widely announced new millions of plans for a walled city be?
In April, the government announced an action plan of € 40 million aimed at renovating the walled city of Nicosia. This is to subsidize businesses and provide incentives for students and young families to move to the area.
With the attendance of the Minister of the Interior, President Nicos Anastiaciades and Mayor Nicosia, € 40 million to turn a building into a student housing, € 10 million to attract businesses, and € 5 million economically. It was announced that it will be included. Support to subsidize the purchase of primary homes. Meanwhile, existing incentives for refurbishing listed buildings will be expanded and speeded up.
There are no plans right away. Part of the old town has certainly changed over the years, but there are still houses, shops and vacant lots that are about to collapse on each street. Even Redra Street, which is bustling with bars and restaurants that have revived after the financial crisis since 2013, has lost momentum as boutiques and shoe stores have closed and remain empty or replaced by second-hand clothing stores. I am.
However, some other attempts to change the face of the most populous city in Cyprus, especially the 1981 Nicosia Master Plan, leave questions about whether the new project will work.
According to Nicosia Mayor Constantinos Jorkajis, the scale and boldness of the proposed refurbishment is set to change people’s minds.
“The most striking difference between new and past plans is related to the overall approach and focus,” Yiorkadjis told Sunday Mail in an interview.
“For the first time, a number of plans and financial incentives have been approved. All of these are targeted at different population groups and different stakeholders. The rationale is that these incentives work in combination. . “
The mayor, with the exception of the upgrade of old historic buildings, the main selling point of the new plan is to attract and support the economic activity of the walled city while preserving the existing population while at the same time attracting new residents. I said that there is something.
According to Yiorkadjis, students are one of the most targeted categories of new plans, a move to accommodate the growing scholarly population of the capital.
Catering to these students makes sense as the Fanellomeni School in the Old Town becomes the Faculty of Architecture at the University of Cyprus and the nearby Center of Excellence in Research and Innovation. But how practical is it for students on the university campuses of Engomi and Agrangea to live in a walled city?
One of the most pressing issues is parking, as many students rely on cars to go to college due to lack of public transport.
“If you continue to expect to park just outside your destination, it can be difficult to park. However, in many other capitals and metropolises of the world, you can park up to 10-15 minutes from your destination. I’m assuming that you will, “Yiorkadjis insisted.
“The times are changing. More and more countries and cities are focusing on green growth, which means promoting environmentally sustainable economic growth and development. This is the way to the future. And we can no longer ignore it. “
Nonetheless, Yiorkadjis acknowledged that changing the spirit of the car-dependent population for decades could be a major challenge, but future generations, such as students, are now sustainable. He was willing to be more sensitive to topics such as green growth and green growth.
“The younger generation is generally more sensitive, proactive, and sometimes even demanding when it comes to environmental issues. Moreover, the short distances in Cyprus do not interfere with sustainable transportation.
“In addition, the historic center is now operated by minibuses and makes frequent round trips on a very attractive schedule. We hope that the route between the three universities and the city center will be extended. I’m looking forward to it, “said Yiorkadjis.
And, of course, student housing incentive plans are only part of housing planning, and young couples are another target category.
“This new private housing plan includes the entire old town and we hope to provide more flexibility to those interested in obtaining permanent residence in the area.”
Another important point of the action plan is to promote a subsidy system to strengthen entrepreneurship in former Nicosia. It is intended to attract or upgrade new businesses in the region.
Interior Minister Nikos Nuris has revealed that the total budget allocated has reached a total of 10 million euros, with a limit of up to 80,000 euros per individual application. The scheme is open until 2026.
Yiorkadjis added that the entrepreneurial scheme aims to attract new businesses as well as upgrade existing businesses in the old town.
“Eligible companies can receive grants of up to € 60 for project costs and up to € 80,000 per project,” said the mayor.
“Eligible spending includes construction and electrical machinery costs, research costs, and some of the equipment. Potential beneficiaries are either owners or tenants and are refurbished for at least five years. You are obliged to use the facilities that have been used. “
However, in reality, the walled city now has a lot of vacant lots, a former company that had to be closed for years due to a shortage of customers and restricted access to the area. there is.
The biggest question is, given the limited success of the central enterprise after the 1974 Turkish invasion split the city into two and forced people to move their stores to different locations, a total of 1,000. Is 10,000 euros enough to boost the entrepreneurial spirit of the old Nicosia.
“We are primarily aimed at young people. We want to live and work in a walled city,” says Yiorkadjis.
“After all, our goal is to convince them to invest in the area, seeing that the state is also implementing a series of upgrades aimed at attracting new homes and business owners. . “
Nouris also announced some incentives to renovate old buildings in the walled city, but admits that in the past it had had limited success.
“We’re already experiencing challenges, so I’m not sticking to them,” Nuris said at the time.
“Instead, I focus on the actions required and encouraged by the government to resolve the situation. Actions that require continuity and consistency.”
Despite the promising prospects and confidence that local governments and governments have presented plans, there are doubts.
Experienced sociologist, economist and urban planner Glafkos Constantinides says it’s hard to convince people to invest in a walled city that “has suffered from decline and abandonment for years.” He said it would be very difficult.
“Recent government initiatives and plans certainly show good intentions,” he told Sunday Mail.
“But they fully understand all the issues and duplicate the usual recipes for jumping to patchwork actions and incentives for student accommodations and listed buildings without actual planning with a vision. Remains unaware of the complexity of the underlying social and economic issues. Sustainable funding and viable consultation and governance approaches. “
Constantinides said the biggest problem is represented by a lack of stakeholder vision and a limited outlook for the region’s economic and social future.
“Another important point is the effective inventory of all major projects needed to protect and maintain infrastructure, building inventories, all cultural properties that can reform the region and historic spaces. Must be.
“Only in this way will this plan provide new experiences for students, new residents and visitors,” said Constantinides.
There are also elephants in the room. The entire area of the old town is inhabited by irregular migrants, refugees and asylum seekers, who, with or without consent, are obstacles to gentrification. In the presentation, only Finance Minister Constantinos Petrides mentioned this issue when he commented on areas with a large number of irregular immigrants.
There are many challenges, but Yiorkadjis remains bright.
“I understand that there is still a lot to do, but these incentives aim to be one step closer to the permanent and qualitative revitalization of old Nicosia.”
https://cyprus-mail.com/2022/07/17/nicosia-old-city-a-focus-on-the-young/ Nicosia Old Town, Focusing on Youth