The makeover of Thessaloniki’s International Exhibition Center (Helexpo) is high on the government agenda after Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis pledged to “nudge” the project into action during his address at the 84th Thessaloniki International Fair (TIF) last week.
Exhibition spaces, areas for commercial use, and the creation of a metropolitan park are just some of ideas tabled as part of a master plan for the revamp, which went up for public deliberation in March. The plan also includes facilities that will cater to the increasing needs of visitors for congresses and tourism.
“I assure you that the presidential decree will be ready in a few weeks and the international architectural competition will be launched in early 2020,” Mitsotakis said, referring to the overhaul of the Helexpo center as a work of “strong symbolism and development potential”.
Mitsotakis went on to add that by 2021, all the relevant studies will have been completed after which the government will seek a “mixed scheme to fund and start the investment”.
“Our goal is to make the Thessaloniki International Fair one of the best exhibitions in the world,” he said.
Accompanying the prime minister on his tour of the fair, TIF-Helexpo President Tasos Tzikas underlined the importance of the face lift, adding that TIF-Helexpo was “ready to proceed with the project in order to be ahead of the competition from neighboring Balkan countries” and to meet the goal: the 100th anniversary of TIF in 2026 to be held at the new exhibition center.
In the meantime, the Thessaloniki Hotels Association (THA) has also welcomed the plan noting that the renovation of Helexpo “will change the image of downtown Thessaloniki… and hoteliers welcome such initiatives that will help boost tourism activity in our city”.
According to a tentative timeline, construction on Helexpo will be carried out over the 2023-2026 period with the goal for the project to be completed and operational by 2026.
Initial plans include a 50,000m2 area of exhibition space centered around three main kiosks, which will be arranged depending on the needs of each exhibition. Bioclimatic architectural plans also include an office complex, a conference center, a hotel, and an underground parking area in addition to the already existing Palais de Sport – known today as the Alexandreio Melathron Nick Galis Hall, the OTE Tower, and the Macedonian Museum of Contemporary Art.