NEWS

Athens to get ?multicultural? street market

Municipal councillors are reportedly in talks with architects and town planners about creating the capital’s first major open-air street market to drive the local economy and integrate socially disadvantaged citizens.

The market would comprise dozens of stalls, with vendors selling food and other goods, as well as possibly accommodating musicians and other performers.

According to sources, 10 different neighborhoods are being considered as potential sites for the market – some in the city center and others further afield. A team of experts is to select the site on the basis of criteria including accessibility by public transport, parking facilities and the presence of other business activities in the area.

Sources told Kathimerini that one of the prototypes organizers are focusing on is London’s Broadway Market in Hackney, in the British capital’s East End, a once rundown area which has become increasingly gentrified since 2004 when local traders and residents set about transforming their local fruit and vegetable market into something more exotic.

Greek organizers hope that the Athens market will have a similarly rejuvenating impact on the neighborhood chosen to accommodate it, boosting local businesses and driving up house prices. Municipal authorities are to involve local traders, immigrant groups and residents’ committees in preparatory talks.

Another goal of the initiative is to integrate socially disadvantaged citizens. Organizers say they intend to offer a large proportion of the stands to immigrants currently involved in the sale of counterfeit goods, to homeless people and to released convicts. By drawing immigrants into the project, authorities hope they will curb a burgeoning trade in counterfeit goods, which has eaten into the revenue of legitimate retailers and takes up a lot of the municipal police force’s time, and stop other migrants from becoming involved in the sale of bootleg bags, purses and other goods.

Prior to his election last November, Athens Mayor Giorgos Kaminis had pledged to create licensed open-air street markets as a way of tackle the capital’s illegal street trade.