Ble Kedros REIC, representing Coco-mat Hotels & Resorts, owned by the Efmorfidis family, announced this week that it would be ordering a study in order to proceed with the demolition of two floors of its hotel in central Athens after being found in violation of building zone regulations.
Earlier this month, Greece’s highest court ruled that that Coco-Mat Athens BC, located in the Koukaki neighborhood had three months to tear down its two top floors because these were blocking the view to the Acropolis.
Commenting on the decision during Ble Kedros’ annual general assembly, its president and cofounder Mike Efmorfidis admitted that “the situation has taken a turn that we did not expect”.
He went on to add however that that Coco-Mat Athens BC was operating despite the Tourism Ministry’s announcement earlier this month that it would be shutting it down.
“We have given explanations to the tourism ministry and we are in procedures with our legal representatives to address the many levels of the Council of State decision, which was obviously an unpleasant development for us,” he said.
Efmorfidis gave no timetable for the demolition of the two last floors of the hotel which he said was “complicated”, adding that legal proceedings were underway and that Ble Kedros will raise compensation claims. He also noted that the same zoning laws should also apply to at least 22 buildings at the foot of the Acropolis which have exceeded the 24-meter limit.
“It is a confusing situation. We believe that we are dealing with the issue with all possible means of defense at our disposal and are prepared to face an even more unpleasant development than the one we have today.”
The hotel was one of two constructions that spurred the angry reaction of locals in February 2019 after exceeding the 24-meter building limit of the area by 12.5 meters. At the same time, locals said the building was located within the archaeological area of the Acropolis, a world famous UNESCO heritage site.
The public uproar in 2019 prompted the environment and culture ministries to investigate possible gaps in current zoning laws that would allow such interventions.
According to Efmorifidis, “the company has not committed any arbitrary act, was 100% in good will and 100% legal in terms of licenses and had approvals from the culture ministry and the Athens Ephorate of Antiquities.
Due to pending legal proceedings and fines imposed, the value of Coco-Mat Athens BC has plunged by 20 million euros to 11.67 million euros.
Among others, during the general assembly, Efmorfidis announced the construction of a new 5-star, 113-room hotel on the same road, Falirou St, in the heart of Athens again near the Acropolis set to open in 2025 and budgeted at 12.4 million euros. He added that the new hotel also has a 24-meter height approved “two or three times by the Archaeological Council.”
Ble Kedros’ portfolio includes 35 properties valued at 108.2 million euros.