“I think it is fair to say that ONE has had a transformative impact on the Limassol coastline, an area that is going to undergo a lot of development over the next decade. I’m always excited to talk about ONE, it’s something we are very proud of,” said Evangelia Eliadou – Executive Director of Cyprus’ residential real-estate giant, Pafilia.
The 170-metre tower, which upon completion will become Europe’s highest seafront residential development, has already succeeded in attracting buyers from over 18 different countries around the planet. In fact, with over 90 per cent of the properties already sold, ONE has successfully attracted clients that Pafilia wouldn’t have attracted otherwise. “High-net worth and ultra-high net worth individuals, from all over the world, have a particular [fascination for] high-rising buildings. The high-rising gives you the opportunity to give this benefit to a lot of people, rather than very few,” emphasised Eliadou.
Pafilia’s portfolio is set to expand significantly, after unveiling plans for another landmark project in Limassol. Christened NEO, this massive development is comprised of four towers of varying heights; 39,33,33 and 28 floors, with six star residential facilities. It is projected that the first phase of the project – two of the towers – will be completed in 2023, with the remainder scheduled for delivery in 2025.
Like ONE, the NEO project will be a truly international collaboration – as ONE was the first high-rise building Pafilia set out to complete, the company brought together a panel of international experts on design and engineering, “and the best local consultants to work together as a team”.
At a press conference announcing the NEO development, the company stated that it had “hand-picked “an internationally acclaimed team, including architect and master-planning firm Woods Bagot, integrated engineering consultants BuroHappold, façade engineering firm Meinhardt, and landscape architects Andy Sturgeon. This is complemented by a long list of local consultants and experts, that have been entrusted with assuring the project’s success.
The Keys to Success
It’s been a transformative few years, not just for the Limassol seafront, but also for Pafilia itself. The company, which has been in business for over 42 years – and was first established by Eliadou’s father, Elias Eliades – endured significant challenges during the financial crisis.
Following a sharp drop in transactions at the peak of the Cypriot economic crisis in 2013, the market began to rebound in 2014, and has experienced double digit growth on a yearly basis ever since.
In the light of Pafilia’s current success, what have been the keys to weathering the economic challenges, and getting one of Cyprus’ most iconic residential real estate developers where it is today?
“Pafilia is one of the leaders in the real estate industry of Cyprus. We are one of the biggest companies in Cyprus,” said Eliadou, acknowledging that they – and the sector as a whole – have faced many hurdles.
“But what I think is in a way special to the real estate industry as a whole – not only to Pafilia – is that even as we faced these difficulties, we went and we opened up new markets for Cyprus. We’ve travelled all over the world, from China to South East Asia, to Africa; and this dynamism is not only [the policy] of Pafilia, but in general of the whole real estate market, all the players,” reflected Eliadou. This extrovert approach, according to Pafila’s Executive Director, is what brought the Cypriot real estate industry to where it is today.
Successfully attracting investors to developments like ONE in Limassol, or to the five million square metre Minthis Hills Golf Resort in Paphos, defines the appeal of iconic developments to purchasers, particularly from abroad. But Eliadou believes there is more to it than that; for the majority of foreign investors it’s about buying a concept. “Nowadays, clients are not like they used to be 10 years ago, or 5 years ago (..) they want more of an experience, they want to get a different lifestyle”, explained Eliadou.
Pafilia has catered to this trend by developing bigger and more concept-oriented projects – the likes of Minthis Hills, ONE, and NEO. This, according to Eliadou, is a result of listening to what clients want, and being at the frontline. “Because, if you are [on] the frontline,” she commented, “then you can respond to clients’ needs, you can adapt to challenging circumstances, or future challenging circumstances.”
And yet, the core to this approach is ultimately innovation.
“What I think characterises Pafilia, is [that] we are very passionate, we want to do new things, we want to innovate,” said Eliadou, adding, however, that she believes that every project needs to be different; but not solely for the sake of differentiation but, rather, to make sure they – as a team – are continuously challenged. “We believe that a company has to do that nowadays. Unless you improve and you innovate, and you reinvent in the right way, (…) in the form of services, in the form of the people you have, the culture you have, then you will not be a pioneer, a company for the long run.”
A key driver of the sector’s growth – in attracting high-net worth buyers from around the world – has been building on the brand of the country itself, the unique selling points of Cyprus, as not just a place to buy great property, but as a place to live.
Cyprus not only returned to investor grade in 2018, but the country is now also one of the fastest growing eurozone members. While this has played a significant role in enhancing the appeal of the island-nation, so too have an array of government incentives targeting foreign investors; namely the Cyprus Permanent Residency and Citizenship by Investment Programmes. While Eliadou recognises that these factors have been instrumental in bringing Cyprus’ real estate sector back into the international limelight, she believes that the appeal of the country goes well beyond this.
“Yes, they came for a particular reason: some people are attracted by the tax regime, some people by the immigration programmes, but they come to Cyprus, they fall in love with the country, with the people, with the culture (…) [and] they want to make a life here.”
“Personally, I think that’s a hugely positive statement on Cyprus.”