Mitsotakis Job One: Hellenikon Reboot Already Underway

The National Herald

Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis during his speech at the first cabinet meeting of the new government. (Photo by Eurokinissi/Yorgos Kontarinis)

ATHENS – Moving swiftly to meet his first priority pledge, new Prime Minister and New Democracy leader Kyriakos Mitsotakis' government is preparing legislation that would speed development of the long-stalled $8 billion development of the abandoned Hellenikon International Airport.

That had been repeatedly stymied under the former ruling Radical Left SYRIZA, whose hardcore elements furiously fought the project at the same time former Premier Alexis Tsipras said he

New Development & Investments Minister Adonis Georgiadis made the announcement after meeting with Mitsotakis.

While out of power, the Conservatives had emphasized it would get Hellenikon going again. The project would tie together the so-called Athens Riviera on Athens' coast southern end with Piraeus, where the Chinese company COSCO, which operates the port, saw its $618 million overhaul, including a new mall also blocked.

In between is the privately-funded Stavros Niarchos Foundation Cultural Center, one of the country's jewels and a key link between Piraeus and Hellenikon, where plans are to create a mix of high-end uses, commercial and residential space, a marina, casino and park.

The Greek company Lambda, which heads a Hellenikon consortium including Chinese development giant Fosun and Abu Dhabi's Eagle Hills, blamed Tsipras' government for 4 ½ years of delaying the project.

SYRIZA's Former Culture Ministry’s General Secretary Maria Vlazaki had demanded more modifications to the project’s master plan than the current legislation foresees, the paper said, blocking Tsipras’ intent on getting it going during his last days in power.

The ministry insisted that that all studies (for new buildings, facilities and even landscaping) at the site require its approval, regardless of whether they are in the vicinity of a modern-day architectural monument or an area of “archaeological interest”.