ATHENS – After more than a decade of delays, a planned 22,000-square meters (236,806 square feet) major mall in a neighborhood where Plato operated his famed academy has gotten critical approvals to proceed.
A required Presidential decree and memorandum between the development ministry and consortium that owns the property, a subsidiary of US investment giant BlackRock, was signed, the business newspaper Naftemporiki said.
The Academy Gardens, as it will be called, is what the ministry described as a “cultural, entertainment and commercial multiplex center” at the Acadimias Platonos site in Kolonos, near where Plato lectured in ancient times and today is an unkempt park. The site and buildings formerly housed a large textile company.
In October, 2017, some 10 years after beginning plans for the 300-million-euro ($352.54 million) mall, the consortium called Artume complained about constant delays, running into the usual Greek bureaucratic obstacles and as the coalition government led by the ruling Radical Left SYRIZA has critics trying to block private investments on philosophical grounds.
The company wants to develop a 21,000-square meter (68,897-square feet) site that houses two old factories but officials told Kathimerini it’s been a frustrating process.
“Since 2013 there has been a ban on the issue of construction permits in the area where the plot is located, as the state has not complied with the directions of the Council of State, whose decisions noted ‘the issue (of the Presidential decree) has remained outstanding for some time, and the consequences of abandoning the matter unregulated are negative in town planning terms, as the area is constantly downgraded,’” it said before the new approval finally came through.
“In the multiple contacts our company’s officials had with competent government entities, such as the office of the Deputy Prime Minister and the ministries of State and the Environment, we were always assured the issue would be immediately resolved,” Artume officials who weren’t identified said then. It took another three months for the okay.