ATHENS – Delayed for years, development of the $8 billion project to turn the abandoned Hellenikon International Airport into a high-end area of luxury shops, residences, a marino and casino and some park space could finally begin early in 2019.
That was the hope of the developers, a consortium led by Greece’s Lambda, which built the unlawful Athens Mall, and including the giant Chinese company Fosun and a partner from Abu Dhabi.
Prime Minister and Radical Left SYRIZA leader pushed the plan after reneging on promises to stop privatizations but has run into a buzzsaw of opposition from hard-core elements in his party who don’t want any foreign companies in Greece nor any development.
The country’s notorious red tape bureaucracy, challenges from environmentalists and other activists held it up after the original plans to create Europe’s biggest park were set aside in favor of commercial development because of the country’s long-running economic crisis.
Lamda Development’s top executives spoke at a shareholders’ meeting in Athens where they answered a barrage of questions about the casino and the role of foreign investors, but said it’s on track to begin early next year, the business newspaper Naftemporiki said.
Interest has been showed by Las Vegas’ Caesars so far but only in theory, the paper said, which earlier reported that the Hellenic Gaming Commission will commission an international tender for the casino as soon as Aug. 31.
It will face stiff competition from a major new casino being planned on Cyprus by a Hong Kong company.