Greece to develop Athens' former airport site

Olympic and other structures have been built on parts of the former Athens' international airport site. [AFP]

Greece to develop Athens' former airport site

The government will pursue commercial development at the giant former airport site to help offset the effects of the economic crisis.

Olympic and other structures have been built on parts of the former Athens' international airport site. [AFP]

The former Hellinikon International Airport site, a sprawling 600-hectare lot that closed in 2001, will soon be awarded to a private investor to develop it commercially, a reversal from original plans to develop it into Europe's biggest urban park.

Hellinikon, situated on the city's prime coastal location, was originally set to be developed into a green space. The site is located 7 kilometres from the city centre, and authorities opened a metro station there late last year to make it more attractive to potential investors.

Plans to develop the property commercially were drawn as Greece entered the economic crisis, but were delayed because of uncertain investor interest.

Experts said the board of the Hellenic Republic Asset Development Fund is expected to approve a draft contract to three potential bidders vying for the rights to the strip of public land.

They are Elbit, Lamda Development, and London and Regional Properties -- the last parties left after the government of Qatar withdrew because it wanted to enter in direct negotiations and not compete in a bidding process.

Doing nothing with the property creates no value for the country, said Aggelos Tsakanikas, head of research at the Foundation for Economic and Industrial Research in Athens.

"A part of it could indeed be a park, but most of it should be exploited in line with other activities and investments that create permanent jobs," Tsakanikas told...

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