Minister sets out scheme for city revamp

Environment Minister Tina Birbili yesterday heralded an ambitious plan for regenerating the broader Attica area with the creation of more car-free zones, green spaces and bicycle lanes as well as facelifts for derelict squares. The project, dubbed Athens-Attica 2014, aims to upgrade the capital and its suburbs over the next four years with the goal of presenting citizens with a more «humane» living space on the 10th anniversary of the Athens 2004 Olympics, ministry sources revealed. Apart from gentrification, many practical improvements are on the cards. Among those mentioned by Birbili yesterday are the extension of the Athens tram line to Patission Street and the pedestrianization of Panepistimiou Street and Vassilisis Olgas Avenue, the latter as part of a broader plan to connect the ancient sites of the capital. The ministry is planning to hold six competitions for architects. The successful candidates will be appointed to a series of projects including the sprucing up of run-down Pireos Street and the creation of two bicycle lanes, one linking the Faliro Delta to the suburb of Vouliagmeni and the second linking the northern suburb of Kifissia to Neo Faliro. Addressing reporters yesterday, Birbili said that successive governments over the years had failed to push through similarly ambitious schemes for upgrading the greater Athens area due to lack of planning, including comprehensive feasibility studies. She said that her initiative would be more practical and would not be imposed on the city. «Instead of experiments and outmoded forms of urban regeneration, our efforts will concentrate on the existing urban landscape,» she said.