Thomas Cook investor and Abu Dhabi investors to build homes, hotels, malls and a park on former Olympics and airport site.
Construction work on a .9bn project to develop a sprawling coastal Olympics complex and Athens’s former airport will begin in six months, the Greek government has said.
State minister Alekos Flabouraris said on Friday that the leftist administration’s privatisation agency had given the go-ahead to a consortium of Abu Dhabi and Chinese investors backed by the Chinese conglomerate Fosun, which owns 12% of the British holiday company Thomas Cook, to turn the site into a major resort.
It had been earmarked as a metropolitan park but was largely abandoned for the past decade. Now the consortium plans to build a 200-hectare (494-acre) park along with apartments, hotels and shopping malls at the site, which also includes some venues from the 2004 Olympics.
Greece committed to sell off state assets under the terms of the international bailout keeping its economy afloat since 2010. Its main private property developer, Lamda, signed a deal in 2014 to build on the Hellenikon coastal area, in one of Europe’s biggest real estate development projects.
The announcement came as Greece’s statistics service, Elstat, said the economy expanded in the first three months of 2017, upwardly revising a previous flash estimate in May that showed a 0.1% quarterly contraction. Data showed the economy grew by 0.4% in January to March compared with the final quarter of 2016 when gross domestic product contracted by 1.1%.
“Τhe readings are better as we had more accurate estimates in the time that has intervened after the flash projections,” said a senior official at Elstat.
Greece is pinning its hopes on a resurgence of tourists who had been deterred by the migrant crisis and the camps that sprung up along the coast and on its much-visited islands.
The consortium will pay €915m (£800m) to lease the site. It had hoped to start work by June but the project has been delayed because of various bureaucratic hurdles.
Greek forestry authorities said last month, for example, that the site includes some land that is classified as forest, a decision that Greece has said it will challenge. Before securing any building permits, it will also need the country’s archaeological authorities to say whether the site includes protected antiquities. Under a deal with its EU/IMF lenders, Athens needs to speed up the Hellenikon investment and address any forestry and archaeological issues.
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