ATHENS – The long-stalled 8-billion euro ($8.65 billion) development of the abandoned Hellenikon International Airport site on Athens' coast got a push when a demolition order was issued for almost 450 buildings.
That opened way for work to begin on the site following another rejection of an appeal by Hard Rock International of a casino license given to the rival Mohegan Gaming & Entertainment despite that Connecticut-based company's financial problems.
The decision will affect 958 areas inside the plot of the former airport which include buildings, facilities, supporting infrastructure and other types of construction, said Kathimerini in a report.
The process began in April when evelopment Ministry legalized buildings that had been raised on the site, regardless of whether they had a permit, to avoid the lengthy process followed for illegal constructions.
According to the ministry, no other approvals or legislation is required to start demolishing the buildings although 13 listed buildings in the park, including the former East Terminal building designed between 1960 and 1969 by Finnish architect Eero Saarinen, are not affected by the decision.
Prime Minister and New Democracy leader Kyriakos Mitsotakis has made starting the project a priority after it was repeatedly stymied the 4 1/2-year rule of the anti-business Radical Left SYRIZA.
The site was supposed to become Europe's biggest urban park before Greece's economic crisis that began in 2010 led to a switch for mixed-used, mostly commercial space and also including the casino as well as a marina and some limited green space too.