NEWS

Owners cling hard to refugee flats

The fate of the refugee apartment blocks on Alexandras Avenue has emerged as one of the most controversial issues of the Olympic city of Athens. The Ministry of the Environment, Planning and Public Works (YPEHODE) appears determined to pull down six of the eight blocks of flats so as to create a park stretching up to the Elpis Hospital. Over 150 apartments, out of a total of 228, have already been bought by the Public Real Estate Company, while expropriation orders have been set in motion on the rest. According to the scheme, two blocks of flats will be preserved that lie behind the cancer hospital Aghios Savvas and will be restored as a sample of refugee housing. But matters are not going that smoothly for the government. There is a strong nucleus of owners who not only refuse to abandon their flats but say they are prepared to react vehemently and block the demolition process through the courts. The work has been incorporated into the program of Games-related projects as an ultimate means of pressure. But will it work?