ECONOMY

Technological park faces slew of new obstacles

New obstacles are hampering the implementation of the «Acropolis» Technological Park project. The latest concerns the Council of State decision against using the space at Afidnes that Acropolis shareholders paid for, because the court considers it a protected area of Mount Parnitha. More than 100 information technology companies participated in the project, an idea conceived 15 years ago. The body set up to realize the project seven years ago was considering local investors’ proposals of interest for the plot at Afidnes, as a Presidential Decree determined, but the high court’s decision put that process on hold. Now the Public Works Ministry and Acropolis are in search of an alternative solution, with Acropolis alleging that the Council of State relied on past studies. The most likely option is the issuing of a new Presidential Decree, which may well lead to further delays. Property market experts also note that the project will hit another obstacle – namely another Council of State decision which states that former quarries should not be exploited by investors but be left untouched so they can regenerate into forests. But Acropolis said this decision does not concern it, since the area on which the park was designed is an old argil quarry and not a marble one. The area has also been characterized a farming area. Regardless of the solution the ministry opts for, the project will probably stay alive on paper, even though Acropolis’s previous administration claimed two years ago that it had secured an institutional shield for the project and that its construction would begin in early 2007 with a budget of about -180 million. IT sector officials said that the dozens of Acropolis shareholders have so far paid up to -10 million, while -7 million were invested for the purchase of the plot at Afidnes from listed cement company Heracles. They added that several Acropolis administrations operated like amateurs; they did not hire specialists for the work and procrastinated, wasting precious time. On the contrary, various IT company owners have tried to become property development experts. For years they promoted the creation of the park in Eastern Attica, but ended up choosing Afidnes in northwest Attica. «They wanted a ‘silicon valley’ and they are making a ‘silicon mountain’,» says a property company official involved with the project. Asked why IT companies must acquire new headquarters subsidized by the Greek state, the Acropolis administration answers with the argument that concentrating companies in one spot will then attract academic foundations and other bodies from the research and technology domains. Still, no such body has committed itself to being a presence on the technological park so far.