By T. Igoumenidi
Beyond stepped up efforts by the newly appointed leadership of the environment ministry to jumpstart the delay-plagued Helleniko investment in southeast coastal Athens, ministry services are also reportedly working on a special spatial plan (urban planning) for a portion of Maroussi municipality - north Athens - that includes the country's first full-fledged enclosed shopping mall.
Known as "The Mall Athens", in fact, the property is the most profitable in ATHEX-listed Lamda Development's portfolio, with its success serving as the unofficial standard for gauging the commercial success of shopping malls in the country. Lamda Development is also the lead company in the consortium that won an international consortium to exploit the Helleniko site, billed as one of the biggest real estate developments in Europe.
Nevertheless, the specific shopping mall has been the subject of several court rulings citing building code violations and lack of compensation for land appropriated - via 2004 Olympic Games fast-track legislation - from private owners.
As such, a draft special spatial plan must comply with a Council of State (CoS) ruling before being ratified via a presidential decree.
The question, at this point, is which party will pay the adjudicated compensation for the tracts of land that were appropriated to host the multi-storey mall, with a bevy of land owners still owed damages. Among the parties owed compensation is the National Bank of Greece, which was awarded 16.5 million euros in a court decision, a sum that with compound interest now exceeds 30 million euros.
According to real estate analysts, Lamda Development wants to resolve all outstanding legal conflicts related to the iconic shopping mall property before the commencement of the nearly eight-billion-euro Helleniko privatization, with press reports adding that the issue was discussed during a meeting this week at the Maximos Mansion between Greek Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis and Lamda Development primary shareholder Spiros Latsis.
A resolution involving the new spatial plan and millions of euros of compensation was also being promoted by the previous SYRIZA government before the July 7 election.