ATHENS – A 612-million euro ($691.29 million) master plan to upgrade Piraeus, proposed by the Chinese company COSCO which operates the port, is still jammed up in what’s likely to be the last days of the ruling Radical Left SYRIZA that’s expected to lose July 7 snap elections.
Approval for the plan will be passed on the next government, expected to be the poll-leading major opposition New Democracy of leader Kyriakos Mitsotakis who said he would bust the logjams holding back key developments in the country.
The Port Planning and Development Commission (ESAL) has conditionally accepted but not approved the master plan for Piraeus Port Authority (OLP) said Kathimerini, expressing concerns about shipbuilding activity or a shopping center, which would be open to the wider public.
ESAL said the Culture Ministry, which has put up roadblocks to the $8 billion development of the abandoned Hellenikon International Airport, should take the lead on approval for the COSCO plan with elements in SYRIZA trying to stop it.
Sources that weren’t named told the paper that Infrastructure Ministry withdrew objections regarding a new logistics center on a 90,000-square meter plot west of Piraeus that has been included in the OLP concession zone and will be merged with the main area of the port at the car terminal. ESAL has also accepted the operation of the existing shipyards at Kynosoura on Salamina up to the expiry of the contract with OLP in 2052.
COSCO wants to renovate the port and some surrounding areas so that larger cruise ships carrying tourists essential for the tourism industry can berth but local businesses, fearing competition, want it stopped.
A decaying area before COSCO took over, Piraeus has shown signs of improvement under Chinese management and Greek media reported that the Central Council for Modern Monuments approved an investment program which sees the famous Pagoda building transformed into a five-star hotel, on the condition that “its front is not altered.”
It also issued approval to turn two large warehouses into four- and five-star hotels of 150 and 200 rooms, while the hotel at the Pagoda building will have 300 rooms, although there were reports the number of rooms could be cut even more.