Property developer Lamda Development paid a first €648m installment on its 99-year lease to begin transformation of Hellinikon, the site on Athens’ old airport, this week.
The Greek state is the beneficiary of the down-payment, which will go toward the purchase price of 8 billion euro ($9.7 billion) for the redevelopment of the area stretching along the scenic Athenian Riviera.
“A few hours ago Lamda Development bought the shares of state-owned Hellinkon Ltd, paid €648m and the real work is starting now. Since today [Friday], Lamda has the authority to begin the project” Adonis Georgiadis the Minister for Development and Investment, told Greek Reporter on Friday.
After years of delays due to bureaucratic obstacles and opposition to the project, many people thought that the Hellinikon project will never happen, but “we made it happen,” he added.
“Hellinikon is the biggest urban project throughout the European Union. A project which would totally change Athens, significantly change Attica and maybe Greece. It is the biggest private investment in our country since the restoration of democracy in Greece,” Georgiadis told Greek Reporter.
The area will soon be home to new hotels, shopping malls, office space, homes and other features after the land lay fallow for almost twenty years or was abandoned after the Olympics were over in the Summer of 2004.
Hellinikon project to generate up to 75,000 jobs
The project, which will generate as many as 75,000 jobs, according to its developer, envisages the old runways of Hellinikon airport becoming beachfront villas, high-end shopping malls, with a marina, five-star hotels, a casino, office space and the largest public park in Europe.
In the Summer of 2020, demolition crews started the removal of the first of hundreds of buildings that are slated for demolition at the site — which, at three times as large as the principality of Monaco, and comprised of flat, buildable land, is a boon for development.
On Tuesday, Lamda Development announced the first major commercial agreement in retail for the Hellinikon project, with Fourlis SA as the strategic partner.
The deal concerns a large section of the old Athens airport plot, next to one of the two malls Lamda intends to develop, near Vouliagmenis Avenue.
Lamda and Fourlis agreed to the creation of “a unique retail park within the mall, consisting of large-surface stores, known also as big-box stores.”
The total investment in the retail park is estimated at 55 million euros, and it will practically constitute an extension to Lamda’s 70,000-square meter shopping center on Vouliagmenis. That amount concerns both the purchase of the land and the construction and development of the retail park.
Development spurs Athens Riviera real estate investment
The massive redevelopment of Hellinikon has already resulted in a great deal of interest in real estate along the Athens Riviera.
“The development of real estate in Hellinikon, which is considered the largest urban regeneration project in Europe, will have a significant impact on the real estate market, especially in the southern suburbs of Athens, further raising prices for both rental and buying real estate,” Ana Vukovic, the Managing Director for Collier’s Greece and Serbia told Greek Reporter recently.
“The prices are quite high at the moment there,” Antonis Markopoulos, the co-founder and CEO of Prosperty, a growing company of real estate experts, told Greek Reporter.
“I think the project of Hellinikon drives the market in those areas, so the prices are quite high but also the demand is quite high because a lot of foreign investors see the southern suburbs of Athens as the ideal destination to buy a property in Greece. So, we see both an increase in the prices and also in the demand,” he added.