Following years of delays, Kyriakos Mitsotakis’ new government is aiming to get the Hellinikon mega-resort development back on track “as soon as possible”.
Greece’s new government is preparing legislation which seeks to speed the development of the long-stalled Hellinikon mega-resort at the site of the former Elliniko International Airport in Athens.
The EUR8bn Hellinikon development has already faced multiple delays due to zoning problems and government issues, with the national regulator, the Hellenic Gaming Commission, moving the deadline for applications for the 30-year casino concession at the site back three times, most recently to 31 July.
But change could be on the horizon. While on the campaign trail, prime minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis’ had pledged to get the Hellenikon project back on track, and the new government looks set to make good on this promise.
“The election of the centre- right New Democracy party in Greece under prime minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis has increased the likelihood of the Hellenikon regeneration project coming to fruition after years of delays,” stated GBGC’s Lorien Pilling.
Following a meeting with Mitsotakis, the new Development and Investments minister Adonis Georgiadis confirmed that the government was looking to expedite the project. “The goal is to address any obstacle preventing the immediate commencement of this work as soon as possible,” he stated.
Construction of the broader Hellinikon project will be undertaken by a consortium led by Lamda Development, Greece’s main private property developer, in partnership with China’s Fosun Group, and Abu Dhabi-based developer Eagle Hills Properties.
During the company’s annual shareholders’ meeting on 27 June, Lamda’s CEO, Odysseas Athanasiou, blamed the previous left-wing SYRIZA government for the delays in moving forward with the project.
“It was argued that elements within the previous left-wing SYRIZA government had repeatedly tried to stall the project but with Greek youth unemployment running at almost 40 percent, investment in such ventures is much-needed.” Pilling continued. “The New Democracy party has promised to “kick start” the Greek economy and Hellenikon would seem an ideal project to do just that.”
Nevertheless, he cautioned that for the last ten years Greece has experienced frequent shifts in its political landscape, adding that the ultimate success of the project will hinge on the country having a stable government.
“But what regeneration projects like Hellenikon need to succeed is a period of political stability for economic policies to be implemented,” Pilling clarified. “In the last decade Greece has had six elections and Mitsotakis is the country’s eighth prime minister (including caretakers) since George Papandreou came to power in October 2009.”
Meanwhile, US operator Mohegan Gaming and Entertainment has confirmed it has partnered with Greek contractor GEK Terna to jointly bid for the Hellinikon casino concession.
“We strongly believe that GEK Terna’s …deep knowledge of the Greek market will help us fulfil our vision for the Hellinikon area, for Athens and Greece as a whole,” stated Mario Kontomercos, CEO of Mohegan Gaming and Entertainment.
He added that, if successful, the company is looking to make a “sizeable investment” in a casino resort at the Elliniko site, which he affirmed could “be a game changer for the local and national tourism industry”