Elliniko sell-off deal get­ting closer

Kathimerini English - - Front Page -

Greece hopes to launch a ten­der within the next cou­ple of weeks for in­vestors to take on the rede­vel­op­ment of the old Athens air­port in Elliniko, State Min­is­ter Haris Paboukis told a par­lia­men­tary com­mit­tee yes­ter­day.

The mas­sive site is a prime piece of real state as it is lo­cated next to the sea, has good trans­port con­nec­tions and fa­cil­i­ties that were built for the Athens 2004 Olympics. The pre­vi­ous gov­ern­ment had planned to turn it into Europe’s largest metropoli­tan park but this scheme never ma­te­ri­al­ized. The cur­rent ad­min­is­tra­tion has sought to lease the land to pri­vate in­vestors in a bid to raise money that would help re­duce Greece’s mas­sive pub­lic debt.

The gov­ern­ment ap­peared to be close to a deal with Qatar ear­lier this year and Paboukis had flown to meet with po­ten­tial in­vestors in Fe­bru­ary, pledg­ing to steer the deal, es­ti­mated to be worth up to 7 bil­lion eu­ros, through a new fast­track pri­va­ti­za­tion process.

How­ever, the bid to sell the 170 acres of land, which used to house the city’s in­ter­na­tional air­port un­til 2001, has since stalled.

Paboukis said the Qataris may still be the ones who take on the pro­ject af­ter the ten­der is launched. “We have not de­cided what the next step will be,” Paboukis told Par­lia­ment’s en­vi­ron­ment com­mit­tee. “It will be a dif­fer­ent pic­ture if have one in­ter­ested party or many. We want to see if there are more in­ter­ested in­vestors than just the Qataris.”

En­vi­ron­men­tal­ists and lo­cal politi­cians have ex­pressed concern about a large amount of con­struc­tion tak­ing place in Elliniko and have pres­sured the gov­ern­ment to re­tain as much green­ery as pos­si­ble. The head of the state com­pany man­ag­ing the Elliniko site, Spiro Pol­lalis, told the par­lia­men­tary com­mit­tee that this is not the cor­rect ap­proach to the is­sue.

“When you start talk­ing about a park or about how many square me­ters of green­ery there are per Athe­nian, you get on the wrong track,” he said. “We have to view Elliniko as a de­vel­op­ment pro­ject that will in­clude a park.”

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