Cyprus Mail

Mediators may break deadlock in Yeroskipou project

The planned Eden City project at Yeroskipou

A note of optimism appears to have imbued the stalled negotiations over the proposed development of a massive tourism complex in Yeroskipou by Hungarian investor Sandor Kenyeres, tentatively named ‘Eden City’, sources told the Cyprus Mail on Friday.

Talks over the planned project, which was proposed in January 2014 by Kenyeres’ ATUM Developments Ltd, and was said to feature hotels, residences, a marina, a mall, restaurants, flats, an art district, and even a man-made island, stumbled at the government-appointed negotiating committee, a team of bureaucrats mandated with finalising the terms of the deal.

The crux of the disagreement with ATUM is in the rent of some state land required to house part of the development, for which the government is asking for an annual €10m and ATUM is offering around €2m a year.

The entire project has been reported to cost an estimated €3.5bn.

The massive difference is due to the different methodology employed by each side in valuing the land.

Daily Politis reported on Friday that, at a meeting between the committee and the investor’s representatives on Wednesday, it was agreed that the issue be referred to a committee of professional valuers, who will be tasked with bridging the gap between the two sides.

According to sources speaking on condition of anonymity, “during the last meeting between ATUM Developments Ltd. representatives and the state negotiating committee, the members of the latter expressed their genuine will to proceed with the investment and find a mutually acceptable and beneficial agreement with regard to the annual leasehold fee”.

“The overall climate seems to be more positive than ever, since the two parties are willing to base their calculations on a common method in order to reach a settlement and successfully complete negotiations the soonest possible,” the sources added.

Though this may hint at a compromise solution, the technocrats on the negotiating committee insists that legality will be adhered to, as it has been thus far.

Closing in on three years since the proposal was tabled, everyone involved seems to be losing patience.

Citing an unnamed source, Politis said the investors’ side remains cautious and insist that it is imperative that talks are concluded as soon as possible, because “the foreign investors are starting to look at other options”.

This impatience is shared by Archbishop Chrysostomos – the Church of Cyprus has already leased an adjacent plot to the investors for the purposes of this investment – who, citing the delay in final decisions, repeated last month that, if it were his decision to make, he would already have pulled out of the talks.

In a statement on Friday, the Green party said that Chrysostomos’ remarks are “unacceptable, to say the least”.

“When investors claim to have €10bn to invest in the construction of a project, how is it possible that they don’t accept the rent calculated by the state’s authorities?” the party said.

“If they want to pay only €2m per year, as the Archbishop claims, it means that they haven’t got the financial clout to follow through with their proposal. Besides, it is known that the money is not available, and that the deal with the government of Cyprus will be used to ‘fish’ for investors.”

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