NEWS

The adventures of the Acropol Palace hotel

In January of 1999 the Ministry of Culture (YPPO) bought, for 5.3 million euros (1.8 billion drachmas), the imposing Acropol Palace building on Patission Street to turn it into offices for the ministry and ticket offices for the neighboring National Archaeological Museum. But the final price was nearer 13.8 million euros (4.7 billion drachmas) as the company selling the building (AEXE Acropol Palace) said it would undertake the work to restore this outstanding example of art nouveau by one of the most important architects of Athens’s interwar years, Sotiris Magiasis (1894-1966). The work began but then was stopped. Problems emerged when the ministry refused to accept studies when it questioned the need for certain works to be carried out. In February of 2000, the consortium asked for the dispute to be referred to a committee, but then-Culture Minister Elissavet Papazoe proceeded to dissolve the contract on the ministry’s side. A change of leadership at YPPO (Papazoe was succeeded by Theodoros Pangalos) raised hopes for a way out of the deadlock. The committee was set up and the studies were finally approved. The work could begin. That at any rate, was the information provided at a meeting held in March 2001 and attended by officials of the Culture Ministry. The consortium agreed, as long as it was compensated for the two years it had remained in forced idleness. In a show of good will, minutes from the Fourth Division of the State Legal Council were made public that said it was possible to reverse the dissolution of the contract by Papazoe as long as the consortium withdrew legal action and dropped its demands. But this did not happen, resulting in the deadlock being maintained. Today, the ministry, according to the general director for restorations and technical works, Vassilis Handakas, is directing its energies toward smartening up the facade so that the scaffolding can at least be removed before the Olympic Games. Injunctions aimed at removing the consortium’s work teams seemingly are also part of the game plan. For its part, AEXE Acropol Palace has said it is ready to restart work immediately if the question of compensation is referred to an arbitration committee acceptable to both sides.