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Another proposal for making the old airport in Athens a business centre

08 June 2011 / 14:06:53  GRReporter
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The fifth proposal in a raw for the use of the old Greek airport that was closed years ago was presented by the Spanish architect Jose Asembiyo yesterday. The project of the Spanish architect is to create a park surrounded by residential buildings, a media park, university buildings, government offices and a business centre. The proposal is not binding and will be considered together with the other proposal announced the manager of Ellinika  S.A. the Professor of Urban Planning at Harvard University Spiros Polalis, who added that the tender will be announced by the end of the year.
Jose Asembiyo presented his project to the board of the company, whereby 72% of the area will be occupied by a park, about 12% will be built and 15% will be used for roads and infrastructure. His vision, which caused hidden smiles in the board members of Ellinika S.A, is to create a business centre at the old airport to attract the headquarters of large companies from Eastern Europe and the Middle East.

The main idea of using the old airport area is based on the creation of a park at the main airport, which would be accessible through small planted lanes, connecting the city with the sea. The Spanish architect proposed half of the area in the range of one million square metres to be left for the construction of about 6200-6500 homes for 15,000 people, parking lots, offices and other buildings.

3%-4% of the public institutions could move to the old airport, which according to the architect is the widest area of ​​land in Europe, so as to create an economic and government centre. They could be planned around the building by the famous architect Eero Saarinen, which is now abandoned. The total area of ​​"government buildings" is estimated at about 390,000 sq. m, where the central offices of some large companies or banks could move.

Moreover, Asemiyo offered a campus of ​​160,000 sq. m to be created as well as a media park, a closed botanical garden, a photovoltaic park, a hotel and a small shopping centre (115,000 sq. m). The creation of a shopping centre made the mayor of Glyfada respond that there are 4,000 shops in the area and no more are needed. The Spanish architect replied in turn that the government's advisers have told him to integrate a shopping centre into his project, but if the situation is as the mayor declared it, then he would exclude its creation from the project. The architect insisted on the creation of a congress centre for 50,000 people, which is important in his opinion, because it would attract congress tourism and would bring revenues for the maintenance of the park.

Asembiyo "plans" to make places for walks near the control tower and the proposed university, and proposed a museum to be built at the terminal of the old airport. It would be appropriate, according to the architect, to build a hospital of 15,000 sq. m and a market of 10,000 sq. m along the Vouliagmeni Avenue. As for the buildings made for the Olympics, which are within the old airport and were designed by the architect to create a park, Asembiyo stressed that the government should decide whether to remove or keep them.

The Greeks, however, do not seem particularly enthusiastic about Asembiyo’s proposal as the manager Ellinika S.A. Spiros Polalis noted that the project will be considered along with the other proposals and that "we are interested not only in the urban plan, but also in the business plan for the use of this area in a way that will make Ellinika the drive of development." Minister Haralambos Pamboukis clarified that there would be a call for tender by the end of the summer and that he hopes Qatar would take part in it, and then the projects would be assessed. Pamboukis also noted that the old airport would play the role of a pattern of how the remaining state property would be used.

Prof. Polalis stressed that "we do not want other blocks and cement in the region. We would like Ellinika to become a drive for development. We are considering all the proposals for the old airport we have received and we will choose the best one for our country. This is the most important state property in Europe and we should proceed with great responsibility."

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