Faliron industrial zone’s revamp overdue

Things are starting to move in the old industrial district of Neo Faliron, on the Athens coast, where the now empty shells of factories such as the Chropei paint manufacturer, the Velka and Aigaio textile mills stand amid tons of rubble, garbage and industrial waste. All of these sites, not including the nearby Karaiskaki Stadium, cover a total area of 10 hectares. Since 1988, every municipal council in Piraeus has passed a ruling for the creation of green spaces in this area. Lack of resources seems to be the reason why nothing has happened. Nevertheless, business groups buying up property in the area over the past three years have established a status quo. In September 1999, Sonae Imobiliaria with Haragionis bought two neighboring plots (once owned by Chropei) at a National Bank auction, of a total area of 4.5 hectares. Meanwhile, Thena Maris Ship management, a subsidiary of the Martinos shipowning family company Quorum Finance, acquired the 2.6-hectare site of the old Aigaio factory. Businessman Dakis Ioannou (of J&P), through the 3V company, now owns the 2.1-hectare Velka site. J&P Development is the site’s development adviser. Near these sites is the 3.5-hectare Gavriil property, which has reportedly been taken over by the School Buildings Organization for a sports academy. These companies’ decisions to move to Neo Faliron is by no means accidental. The high building coefficient (3 to 3.6) throughout the area, combined with excellent access (near the Neo Faliron urban railway station and central Pireos, Kifissou and Poseidonos avenues), are the greatest attractions. However, the area is not without its problems. The Martinos and Ioannou sites are still classified as industrial. However, on the Sonae-Haragionis site, 1.2 hectares are classified as residential, ruling out construction of a shopping and entertainment complex, originally planned to cover 60,000 square meters. The remaining 3.3 hectares are strictly classified as green space and this is not about to change. On a 0.35-hectare section of one of the two plots is a car park and buildings used by the Athens Water and Sewage Company (EYDAP), which pays a small rent. It is rumored that the Piraeus municipality is using another section of the site as a storage area. According to sources, the issue is being studied by Environment and Public Works Minister Vasso Papandreou in an attempt to find a unified approach to revamping the area, particularly since it is right next to the Karaiskaki and Peace and Friendship stadiums, which are to be used for Olympic events in 2004. The ministry is trying to classify the land in a way that will permit the contruction of homes, offices and shopping centers. This does not look likely for the Sonae-Haragionis site, which will remain green space and play areas for children to serve the entire area. Yet all these plans are still on the drawing board. Even if the ministry approves the land use, neither the existing Piraeus municipal council nor the incoming one appears willing to approve such a plan, precisely because of the rulings by previous councils. On the other hand, not much is being done to find a solution in the spirit of these previous rulings. Moreover, it is considered extremely difficult to find a formula for cooperation between all the owners involved. For there to be the integrated solution the ministry would like, a joint company would have to be set up in which each owner would hold a corresponding percentage, while decisions would have to be reached jointly – a process requiring a high degree of cooperation, something which does not appear to exist.

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