ECONOMY

Developers are ready to build leisure and commercial centers all over Attica

Commercial and leisure complexes are springing up all over Athens and there are plans for several more. At the moment, the hottest areas are western Attica, Aghios Ioannis Rentis, a small suburb equidistant from Athens and Piraeus, and the area of Mesogeia, near the new Athens airport. These are not the only ones, however; there are also ambitious development plans for Neo Faliron, Pireos St, the Olympic athletes’ and media villages, and even densely built downtown Athens. According to official statistics, Greece is the country with the lowest ratio of commercial center area per inhabitant in the European Union. Even Portugal, which is comparable to Greece in population, income, consumer preferences and exposure to credit, has a significant lead. The area of western Attica, which, at present, contains no entertainment attraction hub, is expected to be developed at a rapid pace. Lack of organized leisure facilities, especially cinemas, is drawing in investors, given also the large numbers of inhabitants in the area. Construction of the Attiki Odos road skirting northern Athens and providing a fast east-west connection, and the completion of all its segments by 2004 is also an important factor attracting property developers. The Hellenic Technodomiki Group, through its property subsidiary Kambas, has already undertaken the construction of an entertainment center in a 2.7-hectare area adjacent to the 110-acre Pyrgos Vasilissis (Queen’s Tower) Park at the suburb of Ilion, northwest of Athens. The investment is expected to exceed 11 million euros and the project’s completion is scheduled for next year. According to the lkatest information, the group has obtained a building permit. The Ano Liossia municipality, north of Ilion, once among the most deficient in such facilities, has taken an active role in boosting development. It plans to lease a 25-hectare public area to private investors to develop an entertainment center. The investment is estimated at over 45 million euros, but this is not a final amount because no final decision on the exact nature of the center and its activities has been taken. The current installations in the area, such as tennis and five-a-side soccer courts, will be incorporated into the privately run complex. Possible other activities will include a water park, with pools and high-speed chutes, a sky tower with a restaurant on top, extreme sports courses, for biking skateboarding and rock climbing, simulators, a cinema complex, a food court, shops, a super market, a post office, a bowling alley, a children’s zoo, a creche and a toy train. According to a study by PriceWaterhouseCoopers, the park will attract 1.9 million visitors annually, each of whom is expected to spend an average of 19 euros. Village Roadshow, the Australian entertainment center developer, is negotiating the acquisition of a 250-hectare plot at Menidi to develop a cinema theme park, which will also contain several restaurants, cafes, educational activities and 10 cinemas. There is also interest in creating a leisure and entertainment center on the site of the athletes’ Olympic village being built at Menidi. However, a tender for the development of the village’s commercial zone was not successful and any similar development will await the end of the Games. The Aghios Ioannis Rentis area already hosts the Village Entertainment Center, with cinemas, shops, restaurants and an open-air theater, and the Eu Zein leisure park recently opened nearby. The Eu Zein company has already signaled its intention to expand its park by leasing an adjacent area from the municipality. it also plans to build a similar park in the Mesogeia area. At present, Eu Zein’s park at Rentis contains a variety of outdoor activities, plus games, bars, cafes and restaurants. Next to Village Entertainment Center, on Petrou Ralli St, the Itabos company is building an 8,000-square-meter shopping center and, next to it, the Carrefour hypermarket chain is already operating. The media village center being built at Maroussi, adjacent to the main Olympic sports complex, will provide an additional boost to the area’s development. The village is being built by Lamda Development. It will contain 300 apartment buildings and a 70,000-square-meter commercial and leisure center. The leisure part is made up of cinema multi-plexes, fast food and more formal restaurants, bars and cafes. Commercial centers include almost all sorts of retailers. A similar project will be undertaken by a consortium comprising AEGEK, Empedos and EKTER, at the site of the University of Athens in east Athens, where another media village will be built and which will house students in revamped dormitories following the Games. A 30,000-square-meter commercial center will be built there. Delays in development projects have occurred in the Pireos St. and Neo Faliron areas. In the former, the Greek-Portuguese consortium Sonae-Charagionis has been trying for the past three years to build a commercial and leisure center next to the former Hropei paint factory. Lately, a project submitted by all property owners in the area calls for a mixed use of apartments offices and commercial space. The latter will be developed by Sonae-Charagionis. At the juncture of Pireos St and Kifissou Ave, Israeli company Helios Plaza is looking for an investor to develop a commercial and leisure center with a total area of 32,000 square meters, including underground parking space. It has already obtained a building permit.