Successful Business talks to Mr Yiannis Armeftis, the founding partner of the Armeftis Partners architectural firm and the man behind the Yia ti Lemeso (For Limassol) initiative.
Could you tell us about the Yia ti Lemeso project? What are its goals and what has been done so far?
Yia ti Lemeso (For Limassol) is an independent initiative of Limassolians. The idea was born six months ago with a group of Limassolians who share strong common bonds: our reflections, our concern, our expectations, and, above all, the love for our city. These are the people from all echelons of the local society who want to contribute towards the creation of a better Limassol.
Therefore, we decided to establish the Independent Initiative of Limassolians “Yia ti Lemeso” and open up a public debate about the challenges of our times, with the aim to find innovative solutions that will turn Limassol into a modern European Mediterranean city. The founding of the initiative was announced last March and a series of public consultation debates immediately followed with active citizens, institutions, organisations, technocrats, scientists, and social groups. Through the public consultation, the initiative identified the challenges and the opportunities and formulated a series of ideas, plans, and proposals, all summarised under ten pillars: City’s Identity, Culture, People and Society, Neighbourhoods, Innovation-Development-Tourism, Green Areas-Environment-Health, Traffic-Mobility-Public Space, Sports-Education-Youth, Governance-Planning, and European Programmes-Funding.
We understand that there is a 10-year plan for the Yia Ti Lemeso project. Could you outline the top priorities and the action plan to achieve them in the nearest future?
That is correct, our proposals form a comprehensive strategy for the next decade.
One of our main priorities is to make Limassol a Green City through the development of new and flagship projects, such as the Metropolitan Park, the Linear Park of the Coastal Road (Aktaia Street), the unification of large suburban parks, and the enhancement of urban green areas in streets and squares.
Another priority is the design of the “15-minute City” with an expanded network of pedestrian zones and cycle paths that will connect neighbourhoods, schools, local shopping centres with the city centre and the beach.
Furthermore, we aim at a creative city by strengthening the cultural identity and infrastructure in a way that culture can act as a lever of the city’s development.
We are forming proposals to achieve the organic connection between the Limassolians and the sea, which is the most characteristic part of the Limassol landscape.
We want a sustainable development model, which will ensure the co-existence of three aspects, “live-work-fun”.
At the same time, we do not ignore neither downgrade the issues of direct management, such as the cleanliness of the city, the fast and quality service provided to the citizens, and the development of infrastructure.
All our proposals have been arranged as short-, medium-, and long-term within an action plan for the decade 2021-2031.
The first actions to be taken include public consultation on the proposed Action Plan, the implementation of the Sustainable Urban Mobility Plan, the improvement of the cleanliness, the tree planting, the Green Routes planning, and the improvement of the municipal infrastructure organisation.
Overall, how will this project change the life of Limassol residents?
An effective public consultation to finalise the proposed Action Plan is of utmost importance for the Initiative. Therefore, this step will be the first important change that Limassol residents will realise and it will mark the beginning of a closer relationship with the Municipality of Limassol. Other changes of immediate effect will be the cleanliness and aesthetic interventions in the city, as well as the improvement of the services provided to the residents.
In the long run, the completion of the Flood Protection works and the Sustainable Urban Mobility Plan will give a final solution to the city's major problems. Our 10-year Action Plan aspires to make Limassol a driving force for growth, an important business centre, and at the same time a role model city for quality of life.
How is the project funded?
The main source of funding for us is the funds and funding opportunities from the EU, therefore the Limassol Council needs plans for mature projects, to be able to raise more funding. The Municipality of Limassol is currently ranked 11th among the various public and private bodies that have absorbed European resources from the cohesion funds for the period 2014-2020, while the Municipality of Nicosia is in the 3rd place. The Limassol Initiative also aims at claiming funding through synergies with the private sector and the use of municipal property.
What are the project’s main challenges? How do you approach those?
The challenges we face include the adequate response from the municipal human force and infrastructure, the consensus within the Municipal Council and among the citizens, as well as the right prioritisation of projects and their timely completion while maintaining their quality.
Challenges can be overcome through dialogue, communication, documentation of proposals, and determination. Both the City Council and the citizens need to share the vision for the creation of a better Limassol.
To conclude our interview, what would be your message to our readers, the Russian-speaking business community?
Our goal is to institutionalise the participation of all minorities living in Limassol in the decision-making process. In the shaping of the multicultural identity of the city, the special characteristics of each community need to be taken into account. In this context, we will pursue an in-depth and structured dialogue with the Russian-speaking business community, as we firmly believe that where different cultures and perceptions meet, the most innovative and pioneering ideas are born. This city must prove to all its inhabitants that they rightfully feel Limassolians.
+357 25 711 811