Acropole Palace deal stuck fast

Three years ago, the Ministry of Culture said it would spend 4.58 billion drachmas (13.4 million euros) to buy and renovate a dilapidated central Athens hotel on a prime site opposite the National Archaeological Museum. The Acropole Palace was to have served as a badly needed extension for the cramped museum, hosting offices and the museum shop. But three years after the sale – and one year after the ministry was due to have taken delivery of the refurbished building – it is still in its original, decrepit state having become bogged down in legal wrangles. The deal, negotiated when the current minister, Evangelos Venizelos, last held the culture portfolio, involved the ministry paying 1.8 billion for the building and another 2.78 billion for the repairs, which were to have been carried out by the vendor, Thessaloniki businessman and soccer club owner Giorgos Batatoudis. But after the 1.8 billion was paid, the vendor and the ministry disagreed on the extent of the repairs to be carried out, particularly after the 1999 earthquake, and took each other to court.

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