Ideas for city cen­ter re­vamp gath­ered

Kathimerini English - - Front Page -

Sev­eral min­is­ters yes­ter­day sub­mit­ted their pro­pos­als for the planned re­gen­er­a­tion of the cap­i­tal’s his­toric cen­ter dur­ing a meet­ing with Prime Min­is­ter Ge­orge Pa­pan­dreou, who is not ex­pected to an­nounce the de­tails of the re­vamp un­til June, af­ter other more press­ing mat­ters have been ad­dressed.

Dur­ing the meet­ing, which was at­tended by In­te­rior Min­is­ter Yian­nis Ragousis, En­vi­ron­ment Min­is­ter Tina Bir­bili and Cit­i­zens Pro­tec­tion Min­is­ter Chris­tos Papout­sis, among oth­ers, a pro­posal that kept re­cur­ring was that of of­fer­ing young Athe­ni­ans in­cen­tives – such as tax breaks and sub­si­dized rents – to re­lo­cate to the his­toric cen­ter. The aim of the in­cen­tive scheme is to breathe some life back into the run-down area which has been aban­doned by res­i­dents over the years due to wide­spread drug deal­ing, pros­ti­tu­tion and a bur­geon­ing pop­u­la­tion of mostly des­ti­tute un­doc­u­mented im­mi­grants.

Much of the meet­ing was de­voted to the sub­ject of im­mi­grants, with sev­eral calls for an ex­ten­sion of the vol­un­tary repa­tri­a­tion scheme for mi­grants liv­ing in Greece. There al­ready have been hun­dreds of tak­ers for the Euro­pean Union-sub­si­dized pro­gram which fore­sees the gov­ern­ment cov­er­ing trans­port costs for each mi­grant as well as 200 eu­ros in spend­ing money.

Ideas for a more ef­fec­tive crack­down on crime in the city were also mooted.

And the re­vamp of pub­lic spaces in­clud­ing the ren­o­va­tion of derelict build­ings, many of which are cur­rently be­ing il­le­gally oc­cu­pied by im­mi­grants, was dis­cussed as well as the thorny is­sue re­gard­ing the re­lo­ca­tion of units of the Or­ga­ni­za­tion Against Drugs (OKANA) out of the city cen­ter.

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