A major revamping project in western Piraeus takes a step closer to realization

A significant step of progress for the revamping of the seaside area between Drapetsona and Keratsini, in western Piraeus, was the meeting last week between Public Works Minister Giorgos Souflias and Merchant Marine Minister Manolis Kefaloyiannis, the local mayors and the owners of properties in the area. The 640,000-square-meter area is owned by four companies: National Bank of Greece (NBG), the Piraeus Port Authority (OLP), British Petroleum (BP) and AGET Heracles. This revamping plan, following the pattern of Lisbon before Expo 98, may grow into one of the biggest and most ambitious projects in the real estate sector, as its budget could range from -600 million to -1 billion while its full development will take at least 10 years. The whole area under study consists of four properties, along with some public spaces and utility installations covering 140,000 sq.m. Protypos, an NBG subsidiary, owns 296,390 sq.m., BP Hellas has 83,250 sq.m., Heracles owns 123,000 sq.m. and 80,000 sq.m. belongs to the state and are managed by OLP. The NBG subsidiary completed in mid-2006 the demolition of the building of the old fertilizers factory and the decontamination of all its property. AGET’s estate has the cement-producing installations that do not operate anymore while BP operates a lubricant-packaging unit. This is why BP maintains its reservations about the whole project, as it does not wish to relocate its unit that is close to the port of Piraeus. However, Souflias stated that the operating permits of factories in the area will not be renewed. The final plans are not ready yet, but it is estimated that the buildings erected will cover 320,000 sq.m. while public spaces will reach 300,000 sq.m. including 88,000 sq.m. by the sea. Nevertheless, Drapetsona Municipality proposes that buildings should be reduced by 130,000 sq.m. The existing timetable provides for the rapid completion of talks between parties concerned for the final study to be tabled and the international tender to start in the next 12-18 months. A study by Thymios Papayiannis and Associates for NBG notes that «the exceptional location of the area allows for a broad intervention that will render Piraeus an international multifunctional center, upgrading radically its civic and organizational infrastructure.» The study argues that buildings will eventually total 352,000 sq.m., distributed in the following uses: a shipping business center (70,000 sq.m.), a mild housing development covering 100,000 sq.m., professional uses of various forms and sizes, tourism installations, a sea entertainment park and cultural spaces.