NEWS

Kifissias Avenue looks set to be northern suburbs’ main entertainment center

Kifissias Avenue, leading to Athens northern greenbelt suburbs, is gradually getting a change of face, although not of its essential character. Office buildings occupied by many major Greek and multinational companies, chiefly financial and consultancy services, telecommunications firms, banks, car and furniture showrooms, the Helexpo exhibition center and thousands of smaller businesses line the route, presenting a unified image of a business center not shared by that other major artery, Mesogeion Avenue, to the east. In addition to the office blocks that have spread along the road over the past 25 years, Kifissias has also become a location for entertainment centers, chiefly multiplex centers at the level of Maroussi, giving cinemagoers a change from the conventional cinemas at Ambelokipi, where the avenue begins. There are now 14 movie house screens in Maroussi, and, according to plans in the offing, this figure will increase to 39 by the end of this year. Also planned for the immediate future is the construction of shopping malls and entertainment centers of all kinds. Again at the level of Maroussi, Lamda Development is putting up a 60,000-square-meter shopping mall that will include a supermarket, homewares, clothing and shoe stores and bookshops as well as a restaurant and a 13-screen (one of which will be outdoor) cinema to be run by Village Roadshow, which in effect will be moving its existing cinema at Maroussi to the mall. The mall is to be part of a housing development by Lamda, including 215 apartments of 90-250 square meters, which will initially serve as one of the media villages for journalists covering the Olympic Games. Just below the Hellenic Telecommunications Organization (OTE) building where Kifissias intersects Attiki Odos, Piraeus Bank’s Real Estate group is building on an 8,700-square-meter space which will sport 12 cinema screens to be run by Odeon, 1,200 square meters of restaurants and cafes, an outdoor ice-skating rink and other entertainment areas covering 2,000 square meters, as well as underground parking for 500 cars. The complex should be ready by early 2005. Further down the avenue, at Ambelokipi, the Haragionis group is transforming the old Anesis cinema into a modern 280-seat theater also suitable for conferences, and with a cafe. Haragionis has reached agreement with the actress Penny Zouni over the management of the theater. The upper floor will house a restaurant; the terrace will continue to serve as an outdoor cinema, its screen converted into a video wall during winter. According to the general director of EFG Eurobank Properties, Aristidis Karytinos, the new focus would undoubtedly bring about great changes to the city’s business map. «These changes will be even greater if plans for a second center are carried out in the south of Athens around Karaiskaki Stadium. The new situation, if all these plans come to fruition, will be pleasant for some and unpleasant for others, given that the retail sales market is not expanding at the same rate. The challenge is how markets in the area will react, the shopping centers of Halandri or Kifissia, for example, as well as the way Greek consumers will respond to these new outlets. Of course, it will be some time before any conclusions can be drawn. It is sure to be an interesting time,» said Karytinos.