The demolition of five buildings at the abandoned Hellenikon International Airport signals the first steps in the gigantic 8-billion euro ($9 billion) redevelopment project near the Greek capital.
Perfectly situated along the coast just outside Athens, initial plans to reconstruct the airport and its many acres of surrounding real estate go back to 2012. At that point, the Greek government was actively seeking out investors willing to develop the site commercially.
With construction having been undertaken by Lamda Development, Greece’s main property developer, the project was originally met with various delays for several years.
During the company’s annual shareholders’ meeting on June 27, 2019, CEO Odysseas Athanasiou blamed the previous SYRIZA government for the setbacks which stopped any progress with the redevelopment of the area.
Under current Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis, however, new legislation is being developed in order to help streamline the process for reconstructing the abandoned airport.
In May, progress was made when a demolition order was finally issued for almost 450 buildings in the Ellinikon area. This has opened the way for more work to begin on the site in the midst of current delays brought on by the pandemic.
Despite this, it will still take until October 31, 2020 before demolition on the Hellenikon International Airport site itself can begin, and it will be many more years until the project is actually complete.
According to Development Minister Adonis Georgiadis, who recently spoke at the fifth annual Delphi Economic Forum, the redevelopment project for the airport will continue despite all the delays caused by the pandemic.
He does, however, fear that the virus could return for a second wave in the autumn, which would be the time when the demolition work at Ellinikon is supposed to accelerate.
If signed off, the decision will affect the 958 buildings which comprise the former airport, including facilities, supporting infrastructure and other types of construction.
Thirteen listed buildings, including the former East Terminal building designed between 1960 and 1969 by the famed Finnish architect Eero Saarinen, will not be affected by the Ellinikon demolition.