Limassol: Europe’s new Marseille

Limassol is all set to become Europe’s new Marseille, as the Cyprus city continues its major transformation into a cosmopolitan seaside hub.

Located on the island’s south coast, Cyprus’ second largest urban area has evolved in recent years into a thriving business centre as well as a tourist hotspot, with a growing number of foreign buyers and expats moving to and investing in the area. The result is a wealthy international community reminiscent of the rise of Marseille, France’s buzzing coastal metropolis.

Marseille and Limassol have long been twin cities, and they make a natural pair. Located on their countries’ south coasts, they each have ports and both have been significantly regenerated over the years. For Marseille, its Euroméditerranée project has given a facelift to its historic centre over the last decade and extended to developments around the port. Limassol may be smaller, but the city has sparked an influx of similarly new projects since the global financial crisis, kick-starting the island’s economy in the process.

More than 20 high-rise buildings are currently in the pipeline for the city, most of them along the main beach road, with the tallest current project towering over 15 storeys – soon to be overtaken by The Limassol One, which will stretch 37 storeys high.

This building boom has been encouraged by a range of incentives introduced by the government, including zoning regulation and taxation changes. As a result, development activity has soared: while tourism accounts for 8.9 per cent of the economy, the same share accounted for by the banking and insurance industry, construction and real estate now makes up 14.4 per cent of the economy.

One of the driving forces at the heart of this transformation is Aristo Developers. The company has 37 years of experience in land and real esate development, with 50 new developments currently in the market and 1,200 title deeds issued in 2015 and 2016. In recent years, it has been behind the Kings Avenue Mall and Venus Rock Golf Resort, as well as developments in Limassol, such as the Citygate Residences in the middle of the city and The Spectrum, which looks over the St. Raphael marina.

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Souni Pines Forest offers all the benefits of a lifestyle to rival Marseille, but with the tranquility and peace of a countryside home.

Limassol’s evolution has raised some concerns about rents, as international expats with high budgets, particularly from Russia, are able to afford more expensive prices than local buyers. With its status as a business hub, as well as a lifestyle destination, though, Limassol has emerged as the island’s natural rental hotspot: unlike Paphos, which is popular in the summer months among holidaymakers and second home buyers, demand for Limassol property lasts all year round, which has only boosted its investment potential.

Some have questioned whether the building boom is happening too quickly for international demand to keep up with supply, but overseas interest is steadily rising: enquiries for Cypriot property on TheMoveChannel.com have notably increased in 2017, with the country ranking in the portal’s top 10 most popular destinations for four months in a row in July. According to official sales figures, foreign purchases of Cypriot property rose 65 per cent year-on-year in August 2017, with Famagusta transactions jumping 144 per cent and Limassol transactions leaping 46 per cent.

One of Aristo’s projects, Souni Pines Forest, has also seen a significant climb in interest from foreign buyers. Located just 10 minutes from Limassol centre, the development comprises 2 and 3 bedroom villas with private swimming pools, close to the area’s blue flag beaches, as well as a water park, Ski Mountain, golf course and luxury spas. While some locals have expressed concerns about Limassol’s skyline becoming too crowded with tall towers, Souni Pines is the perfect antidote: the large plots are in a low building density area with no skyscrapers or building sites on the doorstep.

Completing in Q3 2017, the estate offers all the benefits of a lifestyle to rival Marseille, but with the tranquility and peace of a countryside home. Prices are not sky high either, starting from €358,800. Investors will have to move fast, though, to keep up with Limassol’s transformation: the development is already 90 per cent sold out.

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