The Greek Culture Ministry’s Central Archaeological Council (KAS) on Tuesday decided that some 30 hectares of the 620-hectare plot at Helliniko, southern Athens, will be classified as an archaeological site, designating specific areas where construction should not be allowed.
The news was welcomed by the Greek government as the decision gives clearance for an 8 billion euro project to take place at the abandoned Hellinikon airport site by the Lamda Development investment venture. “The decision is fine,” Deputy Economy Minister Stergios Pitsiorlas, told Reuters, adding that archaeologists will have a closer supervision of construction work. “The fact that a small area is declared of archaeological interest shields the whole process from future litigation.”
However, insiders are saying that changes will be required to the initial master plan of the investment tabled in June, which in turn would mean re-negotiating with the government.
Hellinikon investors wait for specifics
“Having reviewed subject resolutions and the accompanied diagrams, the Company shall be able to assess the implications to the Master Plan and the Business Plan, always adhering to the signed and ratified by the Greek Parliament contractual documents,” Lamda Development said in an announcement.
The developer added that the importance of the archaeological findings has been included from the beginning in the Company’s undertakings and moreover it is also provisioned both by the relevant legislation and the MOU with the Ministry of Culture, irrespective of the decisions of the State Administration.
A basic requirement by Greece’s third bailout program, the ambitious plan to create one of the largest multipurpose hubs along the Athenian Riviera has been running into delays and doublespeak ever since the Lamda Development investment venture signed a 99-year lease with the Greek state in 2014 for the 620-hectare area.
This was the archaeological council’s fourth attempt to reach a decision on the matter. Its initial recommendation was for 300 hectares of the plot to be declared of archaeological interest and therefore unsuitable for development.
KAS’ decision came two days after a four-member forestry department panel ruled an appeal that a plot on the Hellinikon site was not a forest.