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Published on : Thursday, July 28, 2016
Athens’ abandoned airport complex is destined to be transformed into one of Europe’s biggest coastal resorts if a Greek development company get its way. Hellenikon Airport was opened in 1938 and closed in 2001, is currently housing a makeshift migrant camp.
Hellenikon was once the only airport in Athens, located just 4 miles south of it, and in its heyday served 13.5million passengers. It was closed to make way for a more modern hub ahead of the 2004 Olympics in the city. Now as the airport sits abandoned without any hope of redevelopment, Lamda Development is keen to turn it into a coastal holiday destination.
Lamda Development is confident its €7billion (£5.9billion) plan to turn the crumbling wasteland and rusting airplanes into a glitzy seaside town of hotels, residences and shops will bear fruit.
Odisseas Athanassiou, Lamda’s chief executive, said that, this new project is going to change the psychology of foreign capital toward investment in Greece.
Despite an on-going migrant crisis, beleaguered economy and political instability, the country’s tourism industry has shown remarkable resilience. A record 23.5million holidaymakers visited Greece in 2015.
The size of the Hellenikon is three times the size of Monaco. At 1,530 acres could be integral to Greek tourism’s continuing strength.
The project has been backed by the Chinese conglomerate Fosun, an Abu Dhabi-based company and other prospective investors. Lamda intends to spend about €1.5billion on roads and other infrastructure, with a further €5.5billion earmarked for 8,000 homes, hotels, shops and 494-acre park.
The migrants from the Middle East and Asia who are currently staying at the abandoned airport will be moved to other sites in the country.
The construction is scheduled to start from the first half of next year. Some of the buildings will be ready by 2020.
Athanassiou said that, since it’s not only for the elite – there will be several mid-range residences as well. He believes that a lot of people would like to live there.