NEWS

Athenians urged to spruce up apartment building facades

A «joint fund» for all apartment buildings is the basis of a proposal to change the face of Athens’s apartment buildings presented by Dora Bakoyianni, the candidate for this year’s mayoral elections in Athens, who has the support of the main opposition New Democracy party. Her goal is to improve the city’s appearance and at the same time increasing the value of its apartments. Candidates on Bakoyianni’s municipal ticket have been working out a plan based on three measures as part of a unified program to refurbish building facades. What is new is the proposal’s aim to pay the cost of the renovations not from the state or municipal budget but rather from apartments owners themselves, who will deposit a small amount every month into a joint account. It will also be funded by banks by means of incentives, and through an exemption from the cost of renovation permits. The proposal calls for a legislative amendment to be tabled by the Environment and Public Works Ministry allowing the project to proceed without each owner having to apply for a separate renovation permit, which would raise costs considerably, but only for the scaffolding, with renovation permits issued for entire streets or blocks in order to reduce costs. Each apartment building would set up an account into which the owners would make small monthly deposits. Cleaning and painting a typical apartment building’s facade would cost approximately 10,300-11,000 euros, which over a 10-year period means a monthly deposit for each apartment owner of 6-10 euros. In view of the city’s general spruce-up for 2004, incentives are being sought for banks to subsidize improvements to apartment building facades, based on accounts set up on a 10- or 12-year basis, in order to clean and renovate a number of buildings by the time of the Olympic Games. According to the Bakoyianni plan, the cleanup is foreseen for the districts of Patissia, Kypseli, Pangrati, Gyzi, Kolonos and Petralona. It will involve the School of Architecture at the National Technical University of Athens, the School of Fine Arts, ecologists and other groups in the community. The ministry has already initiated plans to improve building facades on main avenues in the «Olympic Ring» and along streets in the city’s historic center, funded by the 3rd Community Support Framework. Bakoyianni’s group notes that while the ministry’s initiative is admirable, restricting it to a limited area would risk creating privileged areas and a «two-speed» city. A dirty apartment building facade exacerbates the deterioration of a neighborhood, adds insecurity and contributes to the feeling that the quality of life in the city is deteriorating.