ATHENS – Greece’s notorious bureaucracy – with Prime Minister and Radical Left SYRIZA leader Alexis Tsipras saying he wants foreign investors – notched another victim when US investment company Black Rock suspended plans to develop a 300 million euro ($344.85 million) mall in western Athens.
Eleven years of roadblocks were too much for the company which pulled the plug for at least the next few years on the 55,000-square meter (592,015-square feet) shopping and entertaiment centers in the Kolonos neighborhood near the site of the ancient Plato’s Academy.
According to Artume, BlackRock’s vehicle for the implementation of the Academy Gardens project, the decision was made because of the negative economic climate, political instability and the recent hard fall in bank stocks over a mountain of bad loans.
With Greece’s major banks still struggling despite more than 50 billion euros ($57.47 billion) in recapitalization monies taken from 326 billion euros ($374.73 billion), loan money is finding hard to get at.
Artume has already invested some 120 million euros ($137.94 billion) in the project, of which 90 million euros ($103.45 billion) was for purchase and clearance of the main plot and bordering plots. The rest has gone toward taxes, social security contributions and studies.
There had also been negotiations with constructions groups such as Ellaktor and Lamda Development, which were seen participating in the project. Lambda is one of the major investors in the $8 billion project to redevelop the old Hellenikon International Airport on Athen’s coast into a high-end mix of commercial space, luxury units, a marina, casino and some trees.
Black Rock a year ago warned it would walk unless the logjam of issuing licenses was lifted and the ruling Radical Left SYRIZA, riddled with elements who don’t want foreign businesses changed its tune and with a number of groups objecting to the project even though it would bring jobs, more green space and cultural facilities worth up to 6 million euros ($6.9 million) to empty lots.