July 22, 2019 / 1:54 PM / a month ago

Greece to launch tourist investment project Hellenikon this year

FILE PHOTO: A Greek flag flutters over the main entrance of the former international Hellenikon airport in Athens, Greece, July 16, 2017. REUTERS/Costas Baltas

ATHENS (Reuters) - Greece’s government plans to speed up the regulatory process so that a long-delayed tourist investment project at a disused Athens airport can be launched by the end of the year, Development Minister Adonis Georgiadis said on Monday.

Backed by Chinese and Gulf funds, Lamda Development plans to turn the disused Hellenikon airport in Greece’s capital into a complex of luxury residences, hotels, a yachting marina and casino at a total cost of about 8 billion euros ($8.97 billion).

But the project, part of a post-bailout agreement between Greece and its lenders, has faced bureaucratic delays in recent years amid a long-running row with critics who fear it will damage the environment and the country’s cultural heritage.

Outlining his policy after conservatives won a parliamentary election this month, Georgiadis said the ministry would accelerate the licensing process so that Lamda can lease the property from the state and start construction.

A series of approvals from several ministries and a tender for the construction of a casino are pending.

Georgiadis said that a July 31 bid deadline for the construction of a casino within the Hellenikon project would be pushed back, without providing details.

The new conservative government was elected on a pledge to cut taxes and speed up investments to spur growth in an economy that had shrunk by a quarter during a protracted debt crisis.

Reporting by Angeliki Koutantou; editing by Foo Yun Chee and Deepa Babington

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