Hellenikon project in Athens still stalled by forest land declaration

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Hellenikon project in Athens still stalled by forest land declarationGreece’s forestry service designated part of the land as forest

ATHENS – Just as the government has given the go-ahead for the long-delayed 8-billion euro ($8.94 billion) development of the old Hellenikon international airport site on the capital city’s southern coast, the investors warned it could be upset if part of the site is declared forest land.

That came from Anastasios Giannitsis, Chairman of Lamda Development, the Greek company leading an international consortium which is planning to turn the 37,000-square meter (121,391-square feet) site into a mixture of commercial buildings and some green space.

It was supposed to become Europe’s biggest urban park before Greece’s crushing economic crisis led successive governments to change plans to instead create commercial development on the site that abuts the sea.

Greece’s forestry service designated part of the land as forest even though it’s a cement tarmac and a handful of objectors in the ruling Radical Left SYRIZA-led coalition, upset that Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras reneged on promises to halt privatizations, are trying to do everything they can to keep it from happening.

At Lambda’ annual meeting on June 15, Giannitsis said he believed the project would still go ahead but cautioned there was little patience for political games at this point as it has been years in the coming and needed to overcome frequent political obstacles.

The plans include an international hotel resort with a casino, with a total capacity of 1,200 rooms, that cannot be shifted to another spot. “This is no Legoland,” Chief Executive Odisseas Athanassiou stated, according to Kathimerini.

He added that “forestland is an area developed by natural ways – yet those trees were planted by a girls’ college located in that area at the time. Therefore this is not a forest, but rather an artificial plantation, with the State Legal Council already having issued its verdict two months ago.”

State Minister Alekos Flambouraris later said the question of the forest land has been settled although there was some question as to whether it has.

The consortium that was awarded the real estate concession to develop the massive Hellenikon site on June 15 submitted an integrated development plan (IDP) for the entire project, called Hellenikon-Agios Kosmas, the business newspaper Naftemporiki said.

The IDP was submitted by Hellinikon Global SA and Athens-based Lamda Development SA at the offices of the Hellenic Republic Asset Development Fund, Greece’s privatization agency.

The development was demanded by Greece’s international lenders who are pushing the sale of more state assets.

Read more here.

RELATED TOPICS: GreeceGreek tourism newsTourism in GreeceGreek islandsHotels in GreeceTravel to GreeceGreek destinations Greek travel marketGreek tourism statisticsGreek tourism report

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