Athens makeover to start in fall

Athens Mayor Giorgos Kaminis said Friday that in the fall the municipality plans to launch projects worth 120 million euros aimed at improving the city?s infrastructure and bolstering the social support the local authority provides to citizens who are suffering the effects of the economic crisis.

Kaminis said that among the schemes City Hall wants to put into action is a hotline where residents will be able to register their details and list what basic items they require. The municipality will then attempt to provide them.

The projects will have several broad themes. The first will be to boost entrepreneurial activity. This will involve three abandoned hotels around Omonia Square, the Megas Alexandros, Bageion and Olympia, being refurbished and rented to innovative start-ups.

Another theme is improving the quality of life of city center residents. To achieve this, authorities plan to build more nursery schools, health centers, homeless shelters and centers for disabled children. These services will be offered from buildings owned by social security funds. There are also plans to renovate listed buildings and build a swimming pool.

Kaminis said that a stretch of the Iera Odos thoroughfare between Pireos and Constantinoupoleos streets would be spruced up with more pedestrian-friendly areas. There are also plans to build a waste processing center.

A third aspect of the program relates to improving the urban environment. This will involve the regeneration of 11 squares and numerous sidewalks in various neighborhoods around central Athens. Seating at the theater on Lycabettus Hill will also be repaired.

The final theme of the municipality?s effort is better management of the social impact of the crisis. This will involve the overhaul of a building that will be used as a hub from which to distribute basic goods. Another building will be renovated so it can be used to provide social care.

The initial amount of 120 million euros will be allocated from European Union structural funds. Another 1.5 billion, also cash from Brussels, is due to be invested between 2014 and 2020.

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