Plans for Hellenikon include housing development

Goudi is not the only park in Attica whose fate hangs in the balance. An even larger site, and one of greater commercial and housing interest, is the old airport site at Hellenikon. Here, however, the state’s capitulation is final; what remains to be seen is the manner and extent to which housing will be allowed. The Athens Town Planning Organization and a private firm that won the initial competition are now awaiting the go-ahead from the Environment and Public Works Ministry. The final project should have got under way, but ministry sources blame the delay on «complications» that have arisen regarding the metro line and waste management plans. It is now up to the minister to approve the specifications framework by deciding which activities are to remain and which are to be rejected. As soon as DZO Architecture is given the green light, the final proposals will be ready within six months. The only thing certain about the fate of Hellenikon is that at least 100 of the 530 hectares of the old airport are to be used for housing development. Souflias is expected to announce a decision in March after meeting with the mayors of the neighboring municipalities (Glyfada, Hellenikon, Argyroupolis and Alimos). According to Souflias, the basis for the layout of the park will be the winning entry in the architectural competition that provides for 100 hectares of housing development. This will create a new town of 20,000 people living in 6,000 two- and three-story buildings. The minister has also announced that a management body for the 210-hectare park is to be set up, with the rotating participation of the four mayors. This area comprises that surrounding the current Olympic venues. In defending his choices, Souflias said in March that the Hellenikon Park would cover about 400 hectares compared to 250 hectares, the size of London’s Hyde Park. Yet while London and Paris have 9 square meters of green space per person, and Vienna and Sofia 15 square meters, Athens has just 2.5 square meters per person. Meanwhile, the Hellenikon site is slowly but surely shrinking. In 2001, an area of about 20 hectares was granted to Hellenic Tourism Properties SA for an exhibition center. In November 2004, Olympic Properties was given 221 hectares for Olympic baseball, softball, hockey, basketball, handball and fencing venues. At the same time, part of the area appears to have been turned into a dumping ground for garbage and rubble – unofficially, of course, but illegally and silently at night. The biggest problem is found near the old charter terminal and the burnt-out building of the western terminal. Local residents have already set up committees to demand that the site be cleared.