Greece’s Culture Minister has reportedly signed off on a decision by the influential Central Archaeology Council (KAS) designating 28 hectares of land at the former Athens airport as entailing “archaeological interest”. The disused Athens airport and adjoining tracts of land comprise the landmark Helleniko project, billed as the biggest real estate development project in Europe and a memorandum-mandated privatization that the Greek government must implement.
The closely watched decision by members of the culture ministry-affiliated council last month means that special oversight and licensing will be necessary for the designated expanse, while detailed maps are pending on exactly where the areas of “archaeological interest” are located.
Nevertheless, Minister Lydia Koniordou’s signature is also pending on a master plan and an environmental impact study, both of whom were submitted to KAS members.
In terms of the latter, members of the council expressed reservations over the height of a handful of skyscrapers that developers want to build on the southeast coastal Athens site. Even with Koniordou’s signature on the environmental impact study, the reservations cited in the KAS ruling could lead to legal challenges – a future obstacle that would be added to a long list of bureaucratic hurdles already plaguing the multi-billion-euro project.
On its part, the Lamda Development-led investment vehicle (Hellenikon Global) running the investment and set to manage the property has not commented on the latest developments, although the six buildings listed in master plan are judged as non-negotiable and crucial for implementing the property development. Lamda’s main partners in the investment are Abu Dhabi-based Eagle Hills and China’s Fosun. [naftemporiki]