Culture ministry body: 28 out of 620 hectares of old Athens airport designated as having 'archaeological interest'

Wednesday, 04 October 2017 09:54

A culture ministry-affiliated council has designated 28 hectares of the former Athens airport as an area of "archaeological interest", out of a total expanse of 620 hectares.

The closely watched decision by the Central Archaeological Council (KAS), which had been postponed twice, came by a vote of 15 to one on Tuesday evening - the same day as a 24-hour media strike was in effect in the country.

The old Athens airport and adjacent tracts of land comprise the Helleniko real estate development project, among the biggest in Europe at the moment and a landmark privatization in still bailout-dependent Greece.

The decision affected a small portion of the land slated for development than demanded by the union representing state employed archaeologists.

What's also noteworthy is the designation extends past the Helleniko site and affects a small portion of the neighboring municipality, also called Helleniko.

No reaction has been issued as yet by Athens-based Lamda Development, which leads the international consortium that won a tender to develop the site.

Nevertheless, the decision - if implemented by the government - will likely lead to a revision of the master plan and new negotiations between the government and the investment vehicle.

Although the near-unanimous decision by the KAS members is an institutional condition for the entire process, it is non-binding for the culture ministry, and by extension, the entire government. Nevertheless, in the past such decisions have rarely, if ever, been overturned.

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