Usually politicians inaugurate buildings or development projects after they are completed and when they are ready for use. But this time things were different. The Greek prime minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis chose to inaugurate last Friday the start of the construction work of a big Project at the sea side of the old Athens airport in Hellinikon, marking the beginning of a long-delayed and yet flagship investment announced almost eight years ago! Through live TV coverage, viewers had the opportunity to watch, after a brief speech of the PM on site, the demolition of one of the more than 900 buildings left in an area that was abandoned for more than nineteen years.
The large scale of the Project, covering an area of 6.2 million m2, and the number of parties involved representing the Investors, the Greek State, public authorities as well as the neighboring regional and local authorities, accentuated the complexity of the investment. After a series of bureaucratic, judicial and financial long-lasting procedures and political disputes, the Hellinikon Project seems to be ready for take-off.
The Metropolitan Park
The Project, which is one of the biggest urban regeneration Projects in Europe today, will create a metropolitan area measuring three times the size of Monaco and will comprise cultural, sports, tourism, recreational and educational infrastructures, public spaces and a big open park, housing and mixed use centers consisting of prime offices and retail without neglecting to mention the access to the Athenian coastline. The Hellinikon Project will provide Athens a tremendous opportunity to solidify its position as an all year-round world-class tourist destination while enhancing citizens’ quality of life.
According to Lamda Development, the developer of the Project in Hellinikon, the area which is situated seventeen kilometres away from the centre of Athens, will include the following iconic architectural landmarks enhancing the new urban landscape:
- An open Metropolitan Park of 2 million m2 -exceeding London's Hyde Park and New York City's Central park in size- leading to the coastal front combined with substantial communal green and open spaces designated for public use. Α large network of more than 50 km of pedestrian and bicycle paths will also be created providing easy public access along with the leverage of existing public transportation infrastructure.
- A group of high-rise buildings including the Marina Residential Tower, the Promenade Residential Tower, the Hotel by the Mall and the Office Tower.
- A Multi-Purpose Multifunctional Events Centre and Observation Tower, as a multi-purpose space that could accommodate a variety of large scale events, such as basketball games, concerts and many more.
- The waterfront will be transformed and will include a new free-access public beach, a world-class Aquarium and a state-of-the-art Marina, all of which will constitute a series of new landmarks to embellish the Athenian Riviera. A new Casino will also be constructed.
- An Integrated Resort estimated to attract a new demographic of tourists in Athens.
- A modern Business Park with an educational and R&D hub.
Among the old buildings that will be preserved aiming to enhance the unique architectural identity and heritage of the site, is the East Terminal of the old Athens airport, one of the last works by the world renowned Finnish-born American architect Eero Saarinen constructed in 1959, which will be remodeled into an exhibition centre. The historic hangars, constructed by the British during the World War II, will be transformed into aviation museums, and parts of the runways will be incorporated into the main thorough fares of the Metropolitan Park.
The iconic Saarinen Building in the Hellinikon exhibition precinct
The total investment cost of the Hellinikon Project, which is the most ambitious development Project ever undertaken in Greece is estimated at €8 billion and its operation would lead to the creation of 80,000 jobs, while around 10,000 jobs are expected to be generated during the construction phase. The Project is also expected to contribute to the increase of Greece’s GDP and generate significant amounts in tax revenues to the Greek state.
During the first phase of the Project, €2 billion will be needed and it is ascertained that this amount will come from debt capitals, bonds issuance, capital increase and revenues from rent or sales of properties. The European Bank for Reconstruction and Development (EBRD) has invested €22.7 million in support of the Project in the form of participation in a €650 million share capital increase of Lamda Development. The EBRD funds will be used to identify and support climate actions in compliance with international sustainability schemes as the Hellinikon Project has included plans regarding energy infrastructure, waste management, water efficiency, smart infrastructure, transportation and reduction of air, soil and water pollution.
The new free access beach 1 km long
The Project, that could take ten years to be completed, will create a new local metropolitan identity that will leave its mark and have vast implications on a much wider area. The Project will have a sizeable sphere of influence and positive effects for society, the environment and the national economy.
Read more via Greek News Agenda: Meet the Hellinikon Project - Greece’s Mega Investment | Report: Hellinikon Project to boost growth and employment in Greece
(Photos taken from The Hellinikon Project website)