Historic dye-work plant is crumbling away

The announcement of a facelift for Pireos Street 15 years ago raised hopes that a regeneration of the city’s industrial zone was nigh. Memories of the city’s industrial past would be blotted out but new activities, mainly of a cultural character, would replace the ruined shells of the former factories. This plan never came into effect, as the current dilapidated state of the Chropei dye-work plant attests. Many still envisage a mall on the site of the old factory, even though the area has been designated for green spaces, sports facilities and cultural activities in the Athens Town Plan and in the Piraeus Town Plan. The plot, which covers 4.7 hectares, including the 19th century building on Pireos, is one of the few remaining open spaces in Piraeus as well as an important monument to Greece’s industrial heritage. Fifteen years later, the promises of regeneration remain stashed away in a drawer and the industrial building in question, currently owned by the National Organization for Medicines (EOF), is crumbling away while the rest of the plot, under the ownership of the National Bank of Greece until 1999 and then by the Haragioni Group, has been turned into a dumping ground for all kinds of garbage. Two years ago, local organizations, fed up with the intolerable situation, went to court and the Piraeus Magistrates Court imposed a term of imprisonment on those responsible in the Piraeus Municipality and the Haragioni Group. Local inhabitants still claim that the area is polluted by waste and bins deliberately placed there to make cementing over the area look like a project that would upgrade the quality of life. The area has already suffered with the operation of the Karaiskaki Stadium, the Peace and Friendship Stadium and the building of the flyovers in Neo Faliron. Filling it with concrete would deprive Piraeus of green and recreation areas as well as exacerbate the already severe traffic congestion. «Changing the plot’s description from a green and recreation area is a serious moral issue. Yet the plot was sold with the government’s consent despite promises to the inhabitants of Neo Faliron that it would be incorporated into the Olympic Games projects,» said Michalis Ghion, president of the Neo Faliron Educational and Cultural Association. «We are waiting for the government and the newly elected Piraeus municipal authority to give their pledge that the plot will not be ex-appropriated and the regeneration plan will be implemented. Neo Faliron and Piraeus urgently require greenery and cultural areas.» «A lack of respect for the historical nature of the old factory has been evidenced by the renaming of the street from Economidi to Andrea Mourati. This action is offensive and shows complete disregard for Greece’s industrial tradition. The dye-work plant no longer stirs emotions and its disintegration continues. However, regenerating the plot and renovating the works with a view to providing recreational and cultural activities would give breathing space to the whole of Piraeus,» pointed out Nikos Melios, an economist and historian at the Institute for the Study of Local and Corporate History.

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