New Democracy Will Kick Start Stalled Hellenikon Project

Minister for Growth and Investments Adonis Georgiadis. (Photo by Eurokinissi/Christos Bonis)

ATHENS – Unable to immediately reboot the long-delayed 8-billion euro ($8.95 billion) development of the abandoned Hellenikon International Airport on the capital’s coast into a high-end mixed-use of commercial space, a casino, marina and park, the new New Democracy government said it will nonetheless get it going quickly.

Three ministerial decisions involving the park, the coastline development and the casino are expected to be approved by Aug. 27, and a fourth, involving other construction, by Aug. 30, Development & Investments Minister Adonis Georgiadis said after earlier indicating the process could take until the end of the year.

The involvement of seven ministries has complicated the process, he said, but adding that it will be done swifter than expected and that there won’t be another extension of bids for the casino past the Sept. 30 deadline after the long, drawn-out process under the former ruling Radical Left SYRIZA said prospective bidders lose interest.

The development’s consortium, led by Greece’s Lambda and including China’s Fosun and Abu Dhabi’s Eagle Hills, had complained that while former Premier Alexis Tsipras said he wanted investors that behind the scenes his government worked to keep the project happening as hard-core elements in the party don’t want foreign businesses in Greece, despite the need for critical revenues during a 9 1/2-year long economic crisis.

Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis earlier met with Spiros Latsis, the billionaire head of the consortium that’s been eager to get started. His company also built the Athens Mall whose legality has contested.

Mitsotakis said he’d give the go-ahead his first week in office after winning July 7 snap elections but the project’s start now had been delayed again until the new round of government promises to get it going.

The consortium plans are to turn the old airport into a complex of luxury residences, hotels, a yachting marina and casino after the original plans to create the largest urban park in Europe were set aside during an economic crisis, the government preferring cash.