ECONOMY

Few of the ambitious realty entrants have stayed the course

The term «real estate» was something of a catchword in the world of business during the heyday of the stock market in the 1999-2000 period. Led by banks and construction companies, the two sectors with traditionally large property asset portfolios, almost every other company board of directors made plans to also expand into real estate. It is quite possible that many of the prospecting conquerors of the property market were not exactly sure what the term «real estate» includes – many of those who ultimately got involved had absolutely no previous relation with the sector. Retail chains, textile manufacturing firms, traditional industries, even security door-makers joined the rush to capitalize on the dynamics of the property market by investing funds raised on the Athens bourse in property. Of these, very few serious concerns have remained in the sector today that do not term «real estate business» the mere sale of their assets. One of those that remained faithful to its plans, despite delays, is the marble manufacturing firm Iktinos Hellas, which, through a subsidiary, has laid the foundations for a modern summer resort in Siteia, in eastern Crete, on an area measuring about 80 hectares. It is now in the process of selecting a foreign tourism group to undertake the planning and management of the resort which is to include hotels, marinas, a thalassotherapy center and recreational facilities while two holiday home complexes will be developed gradually, depending on the progress of sales. Cement industry Heracles has recently shown a keen interest in the development or sale of its considerable property assets and has hired British firm Miller Hughes to prepare a business plan for four particular areas – in Santorini; Methana; Soros Volou, where the plan for a new factory has been abandoned; and a 12-hectare plot in Drapetsona, Piraeus. Construction group GEK-Terna and mining group Silver & Baryte (S&B) have set up a joint venture, Kalliftakis, to develop two neighboring buildings on the Athens-Lamia National Road outside the capital. S&B will lease the bigger of the two properties, measuring 8,000 square meters. The Kopelouzos group recently completed the development of a complex of three independent office buildings, measuring a total of 22,000 square meters at 280 Kifissias Avenue, in Halandri, which it has begun leasing. It has also begun renovating a four-story neoclassical building on the new pedestrian walkway of Apostolou Pavlou at the foot of the Acropolis, which will be turned into office space. Another project is the construction of a complex of 26 summer homes in Pyrgaki, on the island of Naxos, and another four homes, 200 square meters each in Kanalia, on Myconos. Kopelouzos Real Estate is also constructing three luxury four-story apartment blocks in Nea Filothei, near the Athens Olympic Center, measuring a total of 9,400 square meters. Moda Bagno, the household and bathroom fittings importing firm which has also ventured into the real estate business, is about to complete a complex of three luxury homes in Strofyli, in Kifissia, and another of four in Politeia. Besides the northern Athens suburbs, the company also plans to diversify into the country home market. The Fourlis retail group is developing «retail parks,» such as the one that includes the IKEA chain in Thessaloniki, which is to have two extended versions at the Athens airport and on Pireos Avenue in Rendi.