Digging at one of the most important Olympic projects, the media village at Maroussi, began this week. The village is the largest of five such projects that will house members of the press, the electronic media and technicians, in all about 20,000 people, who will arrive in Greece to cover the Olympics. The village, close to the Olympic Sports Complex at Maroussi, will cost upward of 400 million euros. Lamda Development, a real estate development company belonging to the Latsis Group, is building and developing the project on 15 hectares of land acquired from the municipality of Maroussi for 129 million euros. Lamda Development had offered the highest price in an auction conducted by the municipality. The company’s shareholders approved a 115-million-euro capital increase to finance the project. The acquisition of the land was hotly contested by local groups who objected to having the plot built upon. It was only last week that Lamda Development got permission to begin excavations. Company managers told Kathimerini they expected the building permit to follow by the end of the month. They added that it was necessary to get the permit in order to finish by spring 2004 and emphasized that deadlines were very tight. The buildings in the media village will have a total area of 150,000 square meters, of which the houses will account for 70,000 square meters. The rest will be taken up by commercial and leisure space. Following the 2004 Athens Olympics, Lamda Development will sell the houses and rent the commercial space. Another media village will be built at Maroussi, on the location of technical college SELETE, across from the Eirini metro station. The contract to build the 51-million-euro village was signed yesterday. The village will house the Education Ministry after the Olympics. «Our market is not regulated like in the EU, but is no worse than markets in neighboring Hungary, Bulgaria or Romania,» he told Reuters in an interview from Novi Sad, Vojvodina’s capital.