Greek Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis on Friday morning attended a ceremony to mark the beginning of construction work on the big investment project at Elliniko, the former site of the Athens airport in southern Athens, nine years after the country launched its first tender for the sale and long-term lease of the vast plot.
“It is encouraging that amid conditions of economic hardship, the country’s most emblematic investment [project] as of today starts to become real,” Mitsotakis told reporters at the event as bulldozers razed one of the defunct buildings on the site.
“We are drawing a line under yesterday and embark on a more hopeful future,” he said adding that the project, which he described as “possibly the largest project in the Mediterranean,” will in its full development generate around 80,000 jobs.
Lamda Development, which is undertaking the investment, plans to turn the seaside plot into a complex of luxury residences, hotels, a yachting marina and casino at a total cost of about 8 billion euros.
The first phase of the work will involve demolishing structures and buildings inside the old airport and is expected to last 3.5 years.
During this time, Lamda will build a casino, two hotels and several skyscrapers that will house offices.
The landmark project, part of a post-bailout agreement between Greece and its lenders, has been plagued by bureaucratic hurdles, legal wrangles and political resistance.
“Today we make a start, but there is a long road ahead of us,” said Mitsotakis, adding that it could take up to 10 years for the project to be delivered.