The long saga in the overhaul of Eleftheria square appears to be nearing a close, as the president is due to finally inaugurate the project on Friday evening – almost 16 years after the process first began.
The complete overhaul of the square – which has played a central role in pivotal moments in the Republic’s history, and for Cypriots during colonial times – tentatively began as far back as March 2005, when tenders were invited for the square’s redesign.
In December of that year, Iraqi-born British architect Zaha Hadid and her associates Christos Passas and Saffet Bekiroglu won the competition for the redesign.
But it wasn’t until August 29, 2011, that the final architectural plans were unveiled to allow for archaeological finds.
Almost nine years ago, on February 6, 2012, construction work began by the Miltiades Neophytou contracting firm – but just months later, the first of many deadlines were missed. On July 1, 2012, the deadline for completion of Eleftheria square bridge and Eastern moat was missed and delayed until June 20, 2013.
Spoiler alert: The same deadline was missed again on September 1 – of 2017, as the opening of the bridge to the public was again delayed. The upper bridge section was eventually opened in December 2018.
On February 6, 2014, the project completion deadline – at a cost of €23m – was missed and pushed back to June 17, 2014.
But it wasn’t until January 1, 2021 – and at a cost of at least €40 million – that the square was completed well, mostly.
And there were other bumps along the way, perhaps most notably on February 24, 2014, when there was an ‘amicable dissolution’ of the agreement with the contractor in exchange for €530,000 (against contractor’s demands of over €1.5m).
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ELEFTHERIA SQUARE TIMELINE
March 2005: tenders invited for square design
December 28, 2005: Iraqi-born British architect Zaha Hadid and her associates Christos Passas and Saffet Bekiroglu win the competition to redesign Eleftheria square
August 29, 2011: final architectural plans unveiled to allow for archaeological finds
December 22, 2011: construction contract awarded
Feb 6, 2012: construction work starts by Miltiades Neophytou contracting firm
July 1, 2012: deadline for completion of Eleftheria square bridge and Eastern moat missed, pushed back to June 20, 2013
June 20, 2013: deadline for completion of bridge missed
Feb 6, 2014: project completion deadline at cost €23m missed, pushed back to June 17, 2014
Feb 24, 2014: amicable dissolution of agreement with contractor in exchange for €530,000 (against contractor’s demands of over €1.5m)
April 4, 2014: project split into two parts (underground parking and redesign of square), new competition for construction contract opened
June 17, 2014: project completion deadline missed
June-July, 2014: Nicosia municipality cancels tenders process as bids received greatly exceeded budget
November 23, 2014: square redesign contract awarded to lowest bidder at 55 per cent over budget
December 12, 2014: underground parking contract awarded to new contractor
January 1, 2015: new contractor Lois Builders starts work on a March 2016 deadline
March 2015: municipality cancels decision to award new underground parking contract due to suspicions of collusion among bidders
November 11, 2015: project completion deadline pushed back to June 9, 2016
Dec 31, 2015: deadline for project completion for co-sponsorship of 85 per cent by EU structural funds missed, project included into new EU programme
February 8, 2016: project completion deadline pushed back to November 30, 2016
April 13, 2016: Mayor Constantinos Yiorkadjis announces “end-of-year” completion and €32m cost (excluding construction of the two-storey parking space)
March 31, 2017: official deadline for completion of bridge and square
September 1, 2017: deadline for opening the bridge to the public missed
January, 2018: Part of the upper section opened to public
July, 2018: deadline missed for delivering the square
December, 2018: Another section of bridge opened to public
January, 2021: Underground parking and large section of moat reopened to public