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Greece – Derelict airport to become world class resort

By - 26 June 2014

Plans have been announced to create a world-class resort at the former Athens airport of Hellinikon, which could be bring $5.4bn to the Greek economy. Situated eight kilometres south of Athens, Hellinikon and an adjoining 337-berth marina span nearly 620 hectares and includes a waterfront of about 3.5km. A consortium comprised of Lamda, China’s Fosun Group and Abu-Dhabi property firm Al Maabar in March were awarded a 99-year lease for Hellinikon for €915m in March of this year.

The consortium has pledged to invest €5.9bn over the next 15 years to create parks, leisure, exhibition and concert facilities, hotels and luxury residences at the site. The developers say the project will benefit adjoining municipalities, but not all residents share that view, particularly as the plans include a casino. The deal is still subject to approval from Greece’s administrative court and parliament.

Eventually, the developers hope to attract a million tourists to the area annually. “This is a major opportunity for Athens to create a truly world-class resort,” said Russell Kett, Chairman of London-based tourism analysts HVS. “We envisage a major integrated resort, the first of its kind in Europe,” he said.

Overall, the Greek state has two years in which to complete the cumbersome land permit procedure or the investors are free to walk away. The developers had hoped to commence building this year, it’s more likely in 2016. Hellinikon was turned into a sports complex for the 2004 Olympics, but most of the venues built for the Games have rarely been used since.

Lamda Development is operated by the shipping magnate Latsis family. The company has built Greece’s largest shopping centre and created the media village for the Olympic Games. It also rebuilt and runs one of the capital’s main marinas south of Athens.

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