Mall investment kept waiting to start construction for a decade

Mall investment kept waiting to start construction for a decade

Artume, a subsidiary of US investment giant BlackRock, has been trying to implement a 300-million-euro investment in western Athens for 10 years now, and it is still waiting – illustrating the obstacles investors face in this country.

The investment concerns the Academy Gardens mall, planned for development on a 21,000 square meter plot the company owns at the junction of Kifissou and Lenorman streets, near Plato’s Academy at Kolonos. It contains the old Vayionis and Mouzakis factories.

Company sources explained to Kathimerini that the investment could proceed with the existing permits, obtained after years of battling bureaucracy, but the signing of the relevant presidential decree remains pending.

“Since 2013 there has been a ban on the issue of construction permits in the area where the plot is located, as the state has not complied with the directions of the Council of State, whose decisions noted ‘the issue [of the presidential decree] has remained outstanding for some time, and the consequences of abandoning the matter unregulated are negative in town planning terms, as the area is constantly downgraded.’”

To overcome the obstacles, the Environment Ministry asked last year for the opinion of the Culture Ministry, which was expressed via a ministerial decision that required another verdict, by the Central Archaeological Council, which was favorable. The Environment Ministry also took into account the decision of the then culture minister, Aristidis Baltas, and asked again for the opinion of the Central Council for Town Planning Issues and Disputes, which was in favor for a third time.

“Environment Minister Giorgos Stathakis, following the opinion of the inner cabinet, signed and sent to the CoS a draft presidential decree to set the construction terms, deemed legal as it is,” a company source said. “At the same time Artume proceeded, as advised by the inner cabinet, to the drafting of a memorandum of cooperation with the Environment Ministry for the development of the broader area, whose signing remains pending,” the source added.

“In the multiple contacts our company’s officials had with competent government entities, such as the office of the Deputy Prime Minister and the ministries of State and the Environment, we were always assured the issue would be immediately resolved,” Artume sources noted. Today, 10 years after the first plans for this investment, the investor is still waiting.

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