NEWS

City center to get facelift

The government is planning measures to smarten up some of the capital?s notoriously scruffy neighborhoods and to offer incentives for residents to move closer to the center of Athens.

Speaking to Parliament today, Environment Minister Tina Birbili said that government proposals regarding the regulatory plans for Athens and Thessaloniki will be unveiled in the first quarter of 2011.

These will include a mix of ambitious and previously heralded projects such as the pedestrianization of Vassilissis Olgas Avenue running in front of the Panathenaic Stadium, the construction of a linear square along Panepistimiou Avenue accommodating a fixed track transit system, and the redevelopment of the Faliro coastal zone in the south.

Special emphasis will be placed on regenerating the capital?s notoriously run-down areas in a bid to deal with some nearly vacant parts of the city. The objective is to attract residents across the income spectrum.

Persisting crime, drug dealing, prostitution and other vices have in the past few years been driving residents out of the historical center of Athens.

?Revamping and strengthening the connection between Athens and Piraeus and [the redevelopment] of Pireos Avenue will become the core of the new metropolis,? Birbili told deputies yesterday, adding that the measures ?will help fight the crisis besetting the capital.?

In addition, the PASOK minister announced an ambitious green-energy program featuring some 3.1 million initiatives over the next 10 years. She said the 396-million-euro package is projected to trim energy costs by 9 billion euros in the next decade.

?This money will contribute to the national objective of reducing power by 20 percent and, at the same time, enable the development and specialization of the construction sector as well as building material and energy product companies,? Birbili said.