Faliron coastline facelift under way

The Faliron coastline’s facelift is one of the few Olympic Games projects which will remain after the Games for the enjoyment of a large number of the city’s residents. Olympics-related installations have provided the impetus needed to revamp the coastline and the resources to carry out a plan conceived in the 1970s but never carried out. The Faliron projects are proceeding apace, despite the large number of separate sites being constructed side by side. Kifissos to Delta The first phase, to be completed early next year, includes a 770,000-square-meter area, stretching from the Kifissos River to the Faliron Delta, which will contain infrastructure projects and permanent and temporary venues for the beach volleyball, handball and tae kwon do events. It also includes an 800-meter-long, 50-meter-wide raised esplanade bridging the junction of Syngrou and Poseidonos avenues and stretching right out to the Delta pier. The 1,050 meters of coastline from the dock where the historic battleship Averoff is tied up, right around to the Peace and Friendship Stadium on the other side of the bay, is destined to be transformed into a huge recreation area with facilities for sporting and cultural events. Very few buildings are to be constructed (covering less than 5 percent of the total area), leaving most of the 732,000-square-meter site open, with 34 percent of it (260,000 square meters) becoming parkland. Recreation centers Two of the few permanent buildings are of particular interest – a 4,000-seat stadium on the Delta and an open-air amphitheater of the same capacity just east of the estuary of one of Athens’s four remaining rivers, the Ilissos. The marine sports center, west of the Ilissos, and the ecology park are also expected to attract a number of visitors, as is the new sailing club at the Delta. Ancient ruins in the area are being incorporated into an archaeological park, part of a project to highlight the history of Faliron. One of the goals is to protect the neighboring suburbs of Moschato and Kallithea from flooding, with the construction of two canals which will also be used as docks for small craft. In addition, the local drainage network and rainwater channels are being rebuilt right along the coastline. Work in progress All projects are proceeding at a satisfactory pace. The Thessaliki-ELTER consortium is undertaking the dredging of the Ilissos riverbed – opening up the canal between the coast and Poseidonos Avenue – the Ilissos estuary breakwater, the seafront and the yachting marina, all due to be completed in mid-June 2003, according to the contract. The GEK-Terna consortium is constructing the beach volleyball court with seats for 10,000 spectators (4,000 of the seats are permanent), eight auxiliary courts for training and warming up, all the infrastructure and restoration of the surrounding area, as well as the esplanade. These projects are scheduled for completion in January 2004. So far, the permanent grandstands for the beach volleyball court have been finished, as well as the foundations for the temporary seats. Also complete are various auxiliary buildings behind the beach volleyball court and alongside Poseidonos Avenue, where construction, electrical and mechanical works are under way. Most of the esplanade has been built. At the moment, the final section is under way, stretching across Poseidonos Avenue to the old racetrack, which is due to close in the summer. The building at the coastal end of the esplanade, which will initially be used to serve the needs of the Games and afterward destined to become a cafe, is also ready. The new section of Poseidonos Avenue leading from Piraeus to Athens via the Syngrou intersection is also being built, as well as pedestrian bridges at the eastern end of the canal and above the Ilissos estuary. The first test event for the beach volleyball event is scheduled for August 12-17. Tae kwon do, handball The third contract covers the indoor tae kwon do and handball stadium (8,000 seats) as well as other projects on the Faliron Delta, all being carried out by the Vioter firm and due for completion by January 2004. Forty percent of the work was ready by the end of last year, and the foundations have been laid for the stadium and the administration building; electrical and mechanical work is being carried out, and work on the foundations for the metal grandstands is under way. At the same time, the tramway along the coast is under construction and the National Defense Ministry is to refurbish the Syngros Villa. During the final phase, which will end next year, the coastline is due to be cleaned up and landscaped, and once the temporary buildings have been removed, work on the coastal highway and flood protection projects and drains, water supply and irrigation will be completed, along with the green spaces and ecology park. How the bay will look after the 2004 Olympics The final phase of construction will begin right after the Games. According to the design, shown above, temporary structures will be removed and the coastal highway and flood-prevention works will be completed. Most of these have already begun. The main project will be the construction of the ecology park.

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