Culture ministry denies reports charging it is placing bureaucratic obstacles to Helleniko project

Greece’s culture ministry on Wednesday afternoon engaged in “damage control” in the wake of several same-day press reports charging that the ministry’s leadership was attempting to insert a provision in a draft bill related to the major Helleniko real estate development project that adds more bureaucratic hurdles.

Reports stated that the culture ministry forwarded a provision mandating the relevant culture minister’s signature in presidential decrees approving the redevelopment plan for the Helleniko site, and well as related ministerial decision during the implementation phase.

A ministry press release responded that “the proposed provision, which is not submitted to Parliament, is independent from the draft bill on ratifying the contract for Helleniko, which was signed today by Culture Minister Aristidis Baltas…”

Earlier press reports this month cited opposition to the property redevelopment by a group of archaeologists, who claimed that antiquities could be located at the site, which served for decades at Athens’ airport, along with adjacent military bases.

A master plan for the landmark Helleniko real estate project, overseen by Athens-based Lamda Development for the main investment vehicle, Global Investment Group, foresees a 915-million-euro payment to the Greek state, paid in installments over the next 10 years.

The first payment, in fact, is a lump sum of 300 million euros for the purchase of 100 percent of the Helleniko S.A.’s shares – the state entity that manages the disused facilities of the old Athens airport — and a concession for 99 years.

Lamda Development will manage the project for the investment group, which is comprised of Chinese multinational Fosun, Abu Dhabi-based Eagle Hills and the Latsis group, which controls a majority of Lamda.

The master planner for the project is Foster+Partners.

Based on the investment plan, the concessionaire is obliged to make investments of 4.6 billion euros over a 15-year period.

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