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Athens Grant Walk: Downtown to Get Green Makeover, Despite Reactions

Panepistimiou av. renovations
This is how the City of Athens envisions Panepistimiou Avenue after the proposed makeover. Credit: Athens municipality

Despite reactions by downtown Athens citizens, the next stage of the Panepistimiou Avenue makeover will go ahead as planned. The so-called “Athens Grant Walk” is an ambitious project by the Athens municipality in making the city more livable.

The redevelopment of central Athens’ Panepistimiou Avenue is part of a general urban redevelopment plan. So far the makeover has included park projects, pedestrian walkways, and major city square overhauls.

After major construction works on the central street of the capital, 19,360 square meters (208389 square feet). will be redeveloped. Athens will, presumably, have more aesthetically modernized and environmentally valuable public space after the renovation.

To enhance sustainable mobility by expanding existing sidewalks, 4270 square meters (45,961 square feet) will be allocated for pedestrians, according to the makeover project. Another 2260 square meters (24,326 square feet) of Athens green space (large flower beds with shrubs and seasonal plants), will be created.

panepistimiou av. makeover
Another model of the post-makeover Panepistimiou Avenue. Credit: Athens municipality

A total of 87 new large plane trees are to be planted along Panepistimiou Avenue, lining both sides of the street. The Panepistimiou renovation has a budget of €3 million euros and is a plan Athens mayor Kostas Bakoyiannis believes in.

“Athens Grand Walk” makeover has failed to excite Athenians

Previous steps taken in the development of the “Long Athens Walk” included the installation of palm trees and jardinieres along its route. Many Athenians have been critical of the makeover, claiming that it is useless for pedestrians and bikers alike.

There are also plenty of aesthetic disagreements among downtown citizens. They have been claiming that the redevelopment has so far done nothing but create a miniaturized Miami in the center of Athens.

According to a recent survey, the existing “Athens Grand Walk” failed to win over residents. The 6.8 km (4.22 mile) pedestrian makeover walkway aims to unify Athens’ archaeological sites and landmarks, and create safe bicycle lanes.

That project — ambitious enough in itself — was the test run for the “Athens Grand Walk”. It included expanding pedestrian areas along the main thoroughfare. The City of Athens notes that feedback on that project has been taken into account for the finalization of the makeover.

Athens Panepistimiou av. makeover
Lots of green, few automobiles, and many pedestrians is the vision for Panepistimiou Avenue. Credit: Athens municipality

Upgrading Athens’ standard of living

The makeover aims to upgrade the standard of living in the urban center, the municipality says, making it more accessible and friendlier to Athens residents and visitors.

This stage of the project comes after the recent start of renovation work on the lower part of Athens’ Syntagma Square. The makeover renovations are scheduled to begin at the end of the year.

The works will continue for a period of up to 15 months, the Athens municipality announced. The makeover will allegedly follow the example of similar urban plans implemented in Berlin and Paris.

In an effort to clarify a number of issues (and take the pulse of the reactions), the Athens municipality has launched an FAQ series covering questions on the makeover project.

Athens authorities are noting that the disruption will be as little as possible in the capital. They have announced that works will be carried out in segments.

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