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Greece: Construction Kicks off on Massive Development Project

Greece: Construction Kicks off on Massive Development Project

Friday, 3 July, 2020 - 07:15
A view of construction works during an inaugural ceremony of works at Greece's biggest property investment at the disused Hellenikon airport, in Athens, Greece, July 3, 2020. REUTERS/Costas Baltas
Asharq Al-Awsat

Greece’s prime minister on Friday inaugurated the start of construction work on a long-delayed major development project at the prime seaside site of the old Athens airport.

Kyriakos Mitsotakis praised the start of work as a key step to implement “possibly the largest project in the Mediterranean.”

Following a brief speech on site, bulldozers began pulling down one of the more than 200 abandoned buildings, the Associated Press reported.

The development of the 620-hectare (1,500-acre) Hellenikon site was a vital element of the privatization drive that was part of Greece’s international bailouts.

The revamping of the airport has been mired in delays and tied up in court cases for nearly two decades, with critics of the project citing environmental and heritage concerns.

Greece received billions in emergency loans to tackle a catastrophic financial crisis, but had to pass sweeping structural reforms and privatizations in return for the funds.

The old airport site was sold under Greece’s creditor-mandated privatization program to a consortium led by Greek Lamda Development, which has planned an 8 billion-euro investment, including a park, housing, shopping areas, hotels and a beach that will be freely accessible.

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