By Bejay Browne
PLANS are underway to upgrade areas of Paphos in a bid to breathe life back into the heart of the town’s traditional centre.
The president of the joint municipality, trade, traditional market and commercial area committee, Nikos Konnikos, said the upgrading is imperative to ensure the survival of Ktima – the old town – and only businesses promoting local traditions and culture will be encouraged to open.
The area is currently home to numerous unused and derelict buildings and is an eyesore.
“At (Wednesday) night’s council meeting, the mayor and the district office presented the project which will see old buildings repaired; the old town will be upgraded along with Makarios Avenue and Kennedy square,” he said yesterday.
The ambitious project comes with a hefty price tag of €9m and will be undertaken in four stages.
“The first is the old market in the centre. It is hoped that work will get underway in four months or so, once the tender process and all of the necessary documentation has been completed,” he said.
The plans have been undertaken by architect Chrysanthos Chrysanthou.
He added that a substantial amount of funding is being requested from the EU as part of the structural funds allocated for the ‘Pafos 2017’ cultural capital award. According to the Paphos councilor, there are around 52 shops which belong to refugees, 20 of these are in the centre of the old town.
“Some refugees are running them but most are closed and need maintenance. In particular, the facades need attention and all of the work will keep the traditional style.”
Although plans to upgrade the area started in 2001 they have been put back for a number of reasons. Konikkos said work was scheduled to get underway at the end of last year, but was delayed due to the economic crisis.
He said, “Makarios Avenue and the small roads leading off this will be turned into pedestrian-only areas, open to traffic only during the early hours of the morning for deliveries.”
“We will also try to keep the market open until after midnight, with free parking,” Konikkos continued.
The committee president noted that traditional craftsmen and artisans are being sought to open shops in the area, adding that a number of incentives and benefits will be offered.
“I’m also trying to bring back butchers and fishmongers to the market. This will be a place where people can go and find anything they need.”
Slowly, units which sell imported goods, such as those from China, will be phased out and replaced with traditional ware, he said.
“If a shop closes due to the economic downturn, we are not permitting the same sort of business to reopen. Instead we are encouraging traditional shops, handicraft and artisan shops. This has already happened at two premises which are now home to ceramic painting and wax art.”
In addition, the municipality is creating a local gastronomy tasting centre, where visitors will be able to sample local food and wine. Work began at the site 15 days ago.
“It will be open in about four months. We are using six existing shops to make one facility, which will mean that visitors can come and sample Paphos food and wine. There are many excellent traditional dishes from our area which many people don’t even know exist.”
The councilor said that the initial amount of money needed to get the project going is around €2m.