A relevant minister on Wednesday more-or-less skirted around criticism that yet another major real estate project in the greater Athens area is being blocked by proverbial Greek bureaucratic "red tape", merely noting that a presidential decree is finally ready for approval. The latter is necessary for the project to proceed.
Environment and Energy Minister Giorgos Stathakis was referring to a plan by real estate developer BlackRock to build a shopping mall in a gritty inner city Athens industrial district. The construction is slated at a site where a closed spinning mill lies disused today, very close to the Academy of Plato archaeological site but also next to a major highway dissecting the Greek capital.
Stathakis said the draft presidential decree meets conditions set by the Central Archaeology Council (KAS) and previous decisions by the Council of State (CoS), Greece's highest administrative court.
Press reports this week that BlackRock is reconsidering its presence in the crisis-bedeviled country are extremely sensitive for the embattled leftist-rightist coalition government, given that a handful of major property development investments have been delayed or blocked by bureaucratic hurdles and legal challenges. The most prominent example is the memorandum-mandated Helleniko project in coastal southeast Athens.
Earlier, main opposition New Democracy (ND) deputy and former minister Dora Bakoyannis cited what she called a four-month delay in issuing the presidential decree for BlackRock's investment. The decree is a necessary requirement before proceeding with construction, given that the former delineates the building co-efficient and other zoning regulations.
Speaking in Parliament, Bakoyannis - the sister of current ND leader Kyriakos Mitsotakis - said the Tsipras government's "pro-investment profile" is being sullied.
The total expanse of the property scheduled for development is 22,550 square meters, with leasing space after construction envisioned to reach 55,000 square meters.
The planned shopping mall - called Academy Gardens - will also include a food court, cinemas and roughly 1,750 underground parking spots.
The property was purchased in pre-crisis 2007, with the developer having spent 127 million euros since then - 90 million euros for the actual transaction.