Athens gives green light to Hellinikon regeneration project

A CGI of the Hellinikon development near Athens

The €8 billion Hellinikon real estate development is one step closer to becoming reality: Athens has finally given the green light to what will be Europe’s largest urban regeneration project and a symbol of Greece’s recovery from the recession and the pandemic.

Property developer Lamda Development just paid the first €648 million instalment on its 99-year lease, completing the sale and transfer of Hellinikon from the state-owned Hellenic Republic Asset Development Fund. Over the next five years, the company will invest €2.5 billion to complete the project. It is Greece’s most significant private investment in a decade.

The development, three times the size of Monaco, will transform what used to be the old Athens airport, which was abandoned in 2001, into a huge complex with shopping centres, beachfront villas, a marina, five-star hotels, a casino, office towers, an aquarium and a large coastal public park. Work has already started on the first project, a €55 million retail park with “big box” stores.

“The real work starts now”, said Lamda, describing Hellinikon as “the first totally smart and sustainable city built from scratch in the world”. The first phase designs are ready and financing has been secured. The project will generate 75,000 jobs.

The development “will give the Greek economy a growth boost, re-position Greece on the global investment and tourism map, incorporate cutting-edge technologies and modern design and architecture principles”, said Odisseas Athanasiou, CEO, Lamda Development.

The positive impact will extend to the property market in the entire area, attracting foreign investors and home-buyers. “The development of Hellinikon 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”, said Ana Vukovic, managing director Greece & Serbia, Colliers International.

Lamda signed the contract with the Greek state for the acquisition of Hellinikon in 2014. Since then, the project has been hampered by years of delays and bureaucratic hurdles. But more recently Greece’s prime minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis has sought to speed up the project as a symbol of the country’s economic recovery and investment-friendly attitude.