ATHENS – Almost forgotten in the fear over the COVID-19 Coronavirus, the long-delayed 8-billion euro ($8.75 billion) development of the abandoned Hellenikon International Airport on the capital’s southern coast got a boost when the notoriously picky Central Archaeological Council (KAS) reportedly gave approval to demolish old buildings on the site.
KAS had stymied the project when the country was under the 4 1/2-year rule of the anti-business Radical Left SYRIZA but the New Democracy government of Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis had been fervently seeking international investors and pushing the project.
That seemingly was put on hold when COVID-19 hit but Development and Investments Minister Adonis Georgiadis told the state broadcaster ERT that bureaucratic work is still going on to get the development going at some point.
He said an appeal by Florida’s Hard Rock International to overturn the company’s disqualification for a license to operate a casino, which was awarded to the Connecticut-based Mohegan Gaming & Entertainment – will be heard by the country’s highest administrative court, the Council of State (CoS) in a month.
The casino is a linchpin for the development but delays had seen other potential bidders drop out under SYRIZA’s rule before it was whittled down to two and Hard Rock rejected, with the company claiming foul and seeking to overturn the decision in court.