A wide-ranging funding program is in progress in many Greek cities concerning the strengthening of local markets and economy through integrated urban intervention actions. The program headed “Open Mall” with a total budget of 98 million euros, aims to stimulate economic activity in commercial areas, and particularly in areas with significant cultural resources and tourism potential, offering an alternative model to traditional shopping malls. 60 large and small cities across the country have been selected for EU and national funding in order to implement joint action plans in partnership with local trade associations and chambers.
These Open Trade Centers can transform the image of a city and enhance local markets offering the opportunity for a renewed city identity concerning commerce, culture, history, urban ecology and innovation. What is more, a culture of partnership and a participatory urban planning among the municipality, society and entrepreneurs could be the result of such a challenging project.
These integrated urban interventions aiming to improve citizens’ quality of life and visitors’ access to the cities, include the following:
- Infrastructure Modernization (parks, squares, playgrounds, outdoor cultural and sports facilities, pedestrian zones etc.)
- Improving mobility in the city (cycling lanes, parking areas etc)
- Improving city’s microclimate (“pocket” parks, vegetation planting, enhancing the aquatic environment etc)
- Aesthetics arrangements (specific billboard locations, graffiti spaces, installation of outdoor art installations, underground cabling, etc.)
- Improving accessibility for people with disabilities
- Installation of smart city infrastructure (wireless internet access – free wifi for visitors, smart street lighting systems, smart waste management systems, etc.)
- Installation of smart sustainable mobility systems (electronic vehicles for transporting visitors from transport hubs, air-conditioned bus stops, etc.)
- Shaping the commercial identity of the city (similar stores’ sheds, awnings, labels etc)
- Advertising and promoting commercial areas (platforms to enhance local entrepreneurship, events to promote shopping streets, digital logos etc)
In this sense, urban interventions in the “Open Mall” program have an integrated approach aiming to transform the entire public space and not only separate commercial businesses, in a way that could contribute to the creation of a city “landmark”.
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