Acropole Hotel to be refurbished by 2008, in spite of disputes

At long last, the lock on the Acropole Hotel building, on Patission Street opposite the National Technical University and the National Archaeological Museum, was opened on September 16 for a visit by Deputy Culture Minister Petros Tatoulis. The exterior of the building has been draped in tattered burlap for years and the interior is dilapidated. Only the once brilliant chandeliers and the worn parquetry floor in the lobby indicate that this was one of the most beautiful buildings in Athens. An architectural gem, it was to have been renovated and restored to its former glory, but a legal dispute allowed it fall into disrepair. The minister’s visit raised an issue that has been left unresolved for two years concerning the ownership of the building and its future use. Tatoulis told the press that the old hotel belongs to the Culture Ministry (YPPO) and that refurbishment will proceed, even though the Acropole Hotel Businesses consortium (AEXE, the former owners, which were to have undertaken the renovation) has lodged a court appeal because the study they submitted was not implemented and for compensation for losses. Both the political will and the funding exist to get the Acropole ready in 2008 to house administrative and other offices for the National Archaeological Museum, according to Tatoulis. He did not explain how the legal issue was to be settled, merely stating in response to questions from the press, «YPPO’s legal and architectural departments have taken all necessary steps to make the most of the building.» In 1999, the Greek state decided to lay out 4.58 billion drachmas (13.4m euros) to acquire and renovate the hotel. One of the city’s most important postwar buildings, it was designed by Sotiris Magiasis, and had become the property of AEXE. The first installment of 1.8 billion drachmas (5.2m euros) was paid to the consortium to buy the property, but the agreement was that AEXE would do the renovation and hand over the keys to YPPO. The Council of Modern Monuments approved the study, but the two parties disagreed over the implementation study. AEXE opposed the need for static reinforcement and submitted a study for a much cheaper renovation, which the ministry rejected. The matter wound up in court and the final case is scheduled to be heard in late October. The building is still standing but is in urgent need of repair, Roula Palatza, head of YPPO’s cultural buildings department, told the press.