Real estate and large scale development
The former Hellinikon Airport is an emblematic case of both aggressive neoliberal urban development and social resistance to the privatization and dispossession of public land. After the relocation in the mid 90s of the Airport to its present position at Spata, the 6.200 hectares coastal area was designated to become a metropolitan park. However, during the next decade and more intensively since the outburst of the Greek debt crisis, there has been a dramatic shift in the official policies, towards privatization and intensive urban development of the area. Eventually, in 2014 the Greek Lamda Development investment venture in collaboration with international investors signed a 99-year lease with the Greek state and in 2016 the completion of the project, which includes the construction of hotels, casinos, office buildings and luxury residential areas became a basic requirement in Greece’s third bailout program. The plans for the privatization and real estate development of Hellinikon met the strong opposition from local movements and other social initiatives. This broad coalition has struggled for over ten years for the creation of a public metropolitan park that will meet the needs of the community and improve the environment and climate conditions of Athens.
In the field trip we will visit the site of the former Airport and discuss the processes of ultra-neoliberal urban development in Greece over the last years and the possible alternatives as outcomes of social resistance and creativity. Furthermore,we will explore the possible scenarios and critical challenges regarding the management and development of Athens’ coastal zone. While driving along the waterfront of Athens, we will visit areas with different urban and environmental characteristics (Olympic facilities, private marinas, urban projects) and analyse the conflicts that are expressed in the way the city is related to the sea.