Yiannis Misirlis. The Icon of Business. From Local Entrepreneur to Global Real Estate Developer
Yiannis Misirlis is a founding Director of the Imperio Group, one of Cyprus’ renowned luxury property developers. As an entrepreneur, he is heavily involved with many organisations, such as the Land and Building Developers Association of Cyprus (LBDA), where he currently serves as Deputy Chairman of the Board. He also sits on the Board of Directors of the Cyprus Chamber of Commerce & Industry (CCCI), where he is the Chairman of the Real Estate committee. Yiannis Misirlis is a regular contributor to OPPLive (one of Europe’s largest property fairs), focusing on the Cyprus property market. As well, he is a regular speaker at major forums, such as the Economist Forum in New York and London and the Israel Trilateral Summit. His opinions and assessments have been published in the Financial Times, the Hong Kong Times, Vedomosti Moscow and Gulf News. In addition, he was voted ‘Businessman of the Year’ by Politis newspaper in 2010.
In our interview, Yiannis Misirlis is talking about his new project ICON, new markets for Cyprus property, the future of Cyprus Investment Programme and a real estate market in generally.
First of all, let me express my admiration with your latest project, ‘The Icon’. We wrote several times about this project and I must say it is a really interesting and beautiful project. Can you tell us a bit about it?
The Icon is a landmark for Limassol and a symbol of the city’s high-quality living. Its unique design will define Limassol’s future architectural design, while its imposing presence blends harmoniously with the Mediterranean aura and the cosmopolitan atmosphere of the city.
The contemporary architectural design is now defining the coastline of Limassol, imparting a sense of luxuriousness across the entire city. Aiming to approach and even transcend the level of other top international cities, Limassol claims a prominent position among the most luxury destinations in Europe and The Icon is a great milestone in the transformation process of the city.
Inspired by the unique shape of a luminescent diamond, The Icon was designed to house exclusive residences and a spectacular infinity-edge pool and restaurant on the 10th floor, with uninterrupted views to the Mediterranean Sea.
What differentiate your project from all other developments offered in the market?
Firstly, the fact that 50% of The Icon’s apartments have already been sold, a year and a half prior to the delivery date, constitutes a strong differentiating factor. The demand for The Icon is impressive and that makes us really happy because people understand the huge investing opportunity here.
Moreover, comprising only 54 apartments in a 125 metre-high building, the residents’ privacy is one of The Icon’s main competitive advantages. Even having numerous hotel-style services (24-hours reception, room service, housekeeping, etc.), this project is nothing like a hotel resort. The Icon will provide privacy and abundant space; an essential element to feel comfortable and to feel at home.
The deluxe restaurant on the 10th floor of The Icon will provide breath-taking views to the residents and visitors that no other 5-star restaurant has in the city. The building will, also, house athletic facilities, such as a tennis court, and a fitness and yoga club.
The orientation of the building, the 3-dimensional slanted facades and verandas keep the morning and evening sun away from the living spaces of the residences, contributing to the energy efficiency of the building and the well-being of its residents. The form of the building on the 10th floor allows the sun to reach the cantilevered pool and sundecks, offering a unique experience and spectacular views from within the pool.
We are in the constructing phase of The Icon at the moment. The 4th floor of the building has already been completed and, from now on, the floors of the apartments are being built at an even faster pace. Also, earlier this year (in April), and in just 2 ½ weeks, the Marketing Suite of The Icon was built next to the site, where our well-trained customer service team provide information and services to prospective clients.
Occupancy for this emblematic residential tower is slated for December 2020.
It is known that the interest from Russian buyers has slightly decreased due to some difficulties with the opening of new bank accounts. Which country is the biggest interest coming from now?
You could possibly be referring to demand from Russians for banking services. That may have well been decreased to a certain extend.
Demand for real-estate has not seen any signs of decrease in recent times. Actually, the market is showing very strong signs of a recovery, based on strong foundations. The market transactions increase by a rate of 5-10% every year. Russian buyers may not be the biggest market anymore, but they are, nevertheless, an important part of the market. Besides, you do not need to open a bank account in Cyprus in order to purchase a property on the island.
Do you have plans for new projects? Will they also be high rising ones, as The Icon?
Our ambition is to maintain Imperio at the highest level, by offering unique and distinctive developments for the benefit of society as a whole. We are currently focusing on the construction of The Icon, whose importance and scale has upgraded Imperio as a company. We anticipate the progress of The Icon, which is moving forward intensively and it will dominate the sky, with the skeleton of the building completed this year.
In addition to The Icon, another four impressive residential developments are currently under construction and they will be delivered during the next two years. Imperio’s portfolio counts, approximately, 50 delivered commercial and residential projects. Barbican Heights, Levante Residences, Mondrian Residences and Sugar House complement the residential developments that will be completed in the coming months.
The design of Barbican Heights combines pure architectural lines and high-quality materials. The magnificent, unobstructed panoramic view to the city of Limassol and the Mediterranean Sea is enhanced by the apartments’ interior-balanced, modern style.
Panthea Hill, the location of this development, promises uninterrupted tranquillity, where residents will enjoy easy access to Limassol’s centre, the highway and all the amenities of the area.
Barbican Heights is the ideal choice for those who want to enjoy the finer things in life and for buyers who are looking to invest in a promising property, in a unique location.
Project delivery: April 2021.
Levante Residences consists of luxurious apartments in a contemporary design complex, located in the heart of Germasogeia. Close to a wide range of amenities and the city of Limassol, Levante Residences establishes the standard of luxury living, with its unique interiors, location and impressive communal services.
Project delivery: July 2020
Staying at Mondrian Residences offers a unique and enjoyable experience to all residents. The interiors, signed by Imperio’s design team, bring to the project a warm, but modern, design advantage, turning the houses into sophisticated, crafted properties; maximising the interior space and the natural light. All of the rooms co-exist and complement each other, creating excellent living spaces, ideal for relaxation.
Project delivery: April 2020.
Composed of just 6 extraordinary apartments, Sugar House is an example of an exceptional architectural design that incorporates luxury and comfort in every respect. The beautiful private balconies and gourmet kitchens are guaranteed to ignite your love for modern living.
Project delivery: July 2020.
What do you think about the construction of housing for people with low income, which the government has incorporated into the passport scheme?
This is a very good initiative on behalf of the government and it shows their commitment to making the housing market accessible to everyone.
There is an opinion that the construction of skyscrapers can harm the environment, especially if the buildings are almost on the sea. What do you think about it? And, what do you do to prevent it?
We must bear in mind that these buildings increase the value of the city by creating more public green spaces, solving the chronic problem of parking lots and creating a very distinctive skyline for Limassol. This is an element that will characterise Limassol for the next decades, in the same way that the skyline of other cities around the world is very characteristic.
As far as Town Planning and Environmental Impact Assessment studies are concerned, these are not limited to high-rise buildings, but must be applied to all major developments, such as hotels, factories, universities, marinas and golf resorts, major residential initiatives and other developments. As for the Cyprus Association of Property Developers (where I serve as a Deputy Chairman), we have supported these efforts and have stated for years that Cyprus is a small country and must have a master plan for the whole island, on the standards of other global cities, such as Dubai or London.
What, in your opinion, are the geographical markets where potential investors, attracted by a growing Cyprus economy, will come from?
Right now, our neighbouring Middle East and GCC region is the #1 investor in the property market of the island. Russians are second. Moreover, many Cyprus expats who left the country many years ago in order to work abroad are increasingly attracted back to Cyprus.
Also, if we see other segments that are related to real-estate, things become very interesting: For example, education is a very fast growing market in Cyprus, and American investors are #1 there.
In hotels, investors from Israel have the #1 spot.
How long do you see the Cyprus Investment Programme continuing?
Firstly, the Cyprus Investment Programme is not something we invented in Cyprus. Countries like Australia, Canada and the USA have been offering such schemes for decades. They are an incentive to migrate, to explore new parts of the world and enrich the local culture. I do not believe that these schemes should be abolished or altered in any way. Cyprus has always been open to visitors and we should continue to welcome foreign investors who would like to relocate and move part of their wealth to Cyprus.
Secondly, the real estate sector benefits the whole Cypriot economy. Recent surveys indicated that for every 5,000 dwellings being built, about 10,000 jobs are being created. For every one million euro invested in property development, over 3 million euro is generated in the general economy. Thus, the multiplier effect of the real estate sector is substantial, and the whole economy of the country benefits from it in a multidimensional way for every euro invested in our industry.
Lastly, and as mentioned earlier, the Cyprus Investment Programme puts Cyprus on the map for large international real-estate investors who might not have known Cyprus otherwise. This proves very useful for the economy of the island, and the long-term value of these investors for our country is invaluable, with benefits in all directions.
How do you see Cyprus in 10 years?
Cyprus had impressive progress in many sectors during the last years. Also, Cyprus has huge prospects for a brilliant future and this is where we all should focus. I believe that traditional financial sectors (tourism, services, real estate and shipping) must be reinforced and upgraded even more. In addition, we can make significant steps in other important sectors, such as education and health, which are integral parts of our lives. We must further level up the ways of attracting investments, but also provide incentives for the development of technology and related businesses, as well as other areas in the future.
Our Cyprus should continue to grow as a reliable regional business centre that offers employment to its young people and attracts foreign investors, entrepreneurs and professionals to the island.