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Development

A Greek tragedy – with a happy ending?

Retail and restaurant areas are a substantial component of Hellinikon. Image: Lamda Development

According to the developer, Europe’s biggest urban regeneration project is about to take shape on the area of the former Hellinikon airport – including a shopping center. Implementing this project, however, is very challenging.

The Greek real estate group Lamda Development announced its Hellinikon project in Athens with a strong statement: “The development of the former Hellinikon airport constitutes the largest urban regeneration project in Europe, designed to add significant new investments and uses in the areas of tourism, culture, entrepreneurship, innovation and the environment. Thus, it is expected to have a positive affect not only on the region o Attica but on the entire country as well. The significance of such an investment and its benefits for the Greek economy, the environment, the local communities as well as the overall growth prospects of the country are summarized in the following areas.”

In addition to the retail areas, the 6.2 sq km area near the Acropolis will also include residential buildings, hotels, a marina, a beach, and a park. The investors leased the plot for 99 years. Talking about investors, among these are not only Lamda Development but also an international consortium comprised of the Chinese conglomerate Fosun Group, Eagle Hills from the United Arab Emirates and Latsis Group of Greece. The total investment amounts € 8 bn.

Hellinikon project in Athens

Image: Lamda Development

All permits were granted

This vision is quite dazzling on paper, but it is quite a challenge to realize this project. Even 17 years after the relocation of the airport to Spata, this area remains undeveloped. For a long time, it seemed as if the Hellinikon project would remain an unrealized fantasy. But since March 1, 2018, it looks like the project is gaining momentum. This was the day when the integrated development plan with its environmental requirements were enacted into law, providing legal certainty for the investors. The resistance of neighboring communities, the archeological service, environmentalists, city planners, etc. were overcome.

A shopping center as well as further retail and restaurant areas are definitely substantial components of Hellinikon. The project-leading Lamda Development has the necessary experience in this area: the company of the Greek shipowner-family Latsis operates several malls in the country and gained experience on the Attic coast with its Floisvos Marina in southern Athens.

Athens’s entire coastal front

17 years after the relocation of the airport, the area is still remains undeveloped. This is what the project will look like after its completion. Image: Lamda Development

Upgrade Athens’s entire coastal front

According to Lamda Development, Hellinikon is expected to have multiple positive effects on communities; both for the local population as well as the residents of Attica. The site of the former airport has been more of a barrier obstructing residents’ access to the coastal front. It was also a source of pollution rather than a property contributing to the local community, with the exception of hosting some public and charity organizations. The utilization of Hellinikon, beyond the obvious–the rehabilitation of the area–constitutes the beginning of an effort to highlight and upgrade the entire coastal front of Athens.

Furthermore, the project design reflects a new development model, where large areas will be provided for public use. These public use areas include substantial communal green areas and open spaces as well as areas that will accommodate public benefit buildings (e.g. kindergartens, primary and secondary education facilities, cultural facilities, and welfare / health facilities) as dictated by law and expected by local communities.

A completion date for Hellinikon has yet to be announced…

 


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