NICOSIA, Cyprus (AP) — The oval-shaped building with a gleaming metal skin, set close to the sea on a Mediterranean island, resembles a sci-fi portal into another dimension as it reflects the intense July sun.
Aptly named The Oval, the 16-story structure is being advertised as the tallest office tower on Cyprus. It’s one of about a dozen high-rises transforming the skyline of a city in southern Cyprus as the island-nation emerges from a deep financial crisis.
Permits for another 20 buildings designed to be 12 stories or higher also have been approved in and around Limassol, a coastal vacation spot with a reputation as the most cosmopolitan city on Cyprus, according to Costas Galatariotis, president of the Limassol Chamber of Commerce and Industry.
Among them is what government officials say will be Europe’s largest casino resort.
Luxury apartment towers and other high-rise properties in Limassol primarily are marketed to foreign investors who want to obtain European Union passports. The government gives non-EU citizens who put a sizeable chunk of money into the country the opportunity to obtain Cypriot citizenship.
But the tall buildings are not welcomed by all Limassol residents. Some consider them eyesores. Homeowners near the construction sites say they’re fed up with the noise and debris and worry about the new developments casting shadows on their properties, Cyprus Greens party spokesman Alkis Papis said.
But the overarching concern for Papis is what some perceive as the tendency among Cypriot public officials to approve building plans with little forethought. The resulting sprawl and traffic problems diminish the quality of life for residents and take away from the local flavor that draws many tourists, he said.
Limassol Mayor Nicos Nicolaides says he advocates a balance between encouraging development and addressing environmental and other concerns. He favors an approach that concentrates the high-rises in designated zones.
The Limassol Chamber of Commerce opposes freezing construction, as some environmentalists have suggested. A new planning bylaw requires the areas surrounding a planned high-rise to be made up of structures at least one-third the anticipated building’s height. The bylaw is a form of the zoning limits that the mayor and environmentalists champion, Galatariotis said.
By MENELAOS HADJICOSTIS and PETROS KARADJIAS , Associated Press