Mayors in southern coastal Athens warn of health, security risks

20 April 2016
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Mayors of five municipalities bordering on the old Athens airport in the Helleniko district of southern coastal Athens have sent the Greek prime minister a letter warning of a public health and security crisis due to the haphazard operation of a temporary refugee shelter set up in the dilapidated facilities there.

The mayors of the mostly upscale municipalities said the health and safety of both the Mideast refugees housed at the site and local residents was at stake.

The Helleniko site has long been described as the most valuable tract of real estate in the country and one of the choicest locations for property development in the east Mediterranean. The old airport closed in 2001, with some buildings turned into venues for the 2004 Athens Olympic Games, along with other purpose-built facilities at the coastal site. Since then most of the land and buildings have been abandoned, except for a couple of buildings, including a renovated aircraft hangar, used for trade exhibitions and as an indoor sports arena.

A consortium led by Athens-based Lamda Development was the sole and winning bidder in an international tender to redevelop and exploit the entire site, although Greece’s multiple layers of bureaucracy and expected legal challenges could possible delay the investment.

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