The former international airport of Hellinikon is located in the southern coastal zone of Attica and was in operation till 2001. The idea of creating a metropolitan park in the area was first initiated in 1995 , following the ratification of the contract for the construction and operation of the new airport at Spata in eastern Attica (El. Venizelos). In 1996 a research project for the creation of the park started. Although, it was never completed, as in 1997 Greece undertook the organization of Olympic Games and several sport facilities were created there. Although, all government responsible declared that the buildings were provisional and the area would be a park. Nevertheless, in December 2003, the Ministry of Environment, Spatial Planning and Public Works (now renamed to Ministry of Environment, Energy and Climate Change (YPEKA)) launched an international architectural competition for the creation of a metropolitan park as well as the development of the area, comprising business buildings, residences, restaurants, etc. In 2007 the Minister presented a proposal for the area with business buildings, malls and residences of 130 HA.
At that time, the 4 municipalities adjoined to the former airport (Alimos, Hellinikon, Argyroupoli, Glyfada) started coordinated action in order to stop the privatization and development of the area and asked for a park, as the first plans foresaw. The Local Union of Municipalities of Attica assigned to the Urban Environment Laboratory, School of Architecture, NTUA, the elaboration of a research project entitled “Basic plan principles for a Metropolitan Park at the former airport of Hellinikon”. The results of the project were presented in 2011 documenting the reasons for which a metropolitan park is needed. According to the project, the creation of the park is feasible and not expensive. The short and long term steps for a park, comprising athletic and cultural infrastructure, are also presented .
In September 2010 the government announced its intention to proceed to the divestiture of the former airport in Hellinikon to an investment company from the Emirate of Qatar, a plan that was soon abandoned. The financial crisis and the memorandum with Troika brought new legislations for the privatization of commons and the area of the airport was comprised in this process in order to bring investments to Greece .
Following that, in March 2011 a broad civil society movement (named Struggle Committee for the Metropolitan Park) from all over Attica region was formulated, fighting for the creation of a metropolitan park . Many activities, such as tree planting, concerts, festivals, discussions etc., took place in the area of the former airport, demonstrating the willingness of the residents to have a green park in the area. At the same time, demonstrations were held in Athens and the Committee participated in marches organized for other purposes. Furthermore, civil society groups use the existing premises of the former airport for social activities.
Ιn February 2012 YPEKA brings a law for Hellinikon, which creates a flexible framework of building regulations and land uses (it augments the built-surface ratio, allows the building of the coastal zone and severe interventions that would change the landscape, allows the creation of golf courses, etc.), as well as flexible procedures for the implementation of the investment plan. As the Struggle Committee noted, the only goal is to safeguard the interests of the future investors .
Although the Parliament’s Scientific Council ruled the law as unconstitutional, the government proceeded to the ratification and started searching for international investors [6, 7].
In June 2012, residents from the municipalities close to Hellinikon filed an action before the Council of State against the Joined Ministerial Decision with which the former airport was granted to Hellenic Republic Asset Development Fund (TAIPED) in order to sell it to private investors .
Another action was filed before the Council of State against the Joined Ministerial Decision with which the coastal zone and the sport facilities were given to TAIPED .
In April 2012, 9 international investment groups manifested their interest, but only 4 of them passed in the second phase in January 2013. Finally, in February 2014, only one offer was submitted by Lamda Development, a Greek company, having ameliorated its first offer and in November the contract was signed , despite the fact that the amount agreed is considered to be very low. In October 2014, the Technical Chamber of Greece publicized the “Feasibility Study Assessment of the Investment Value of Metropolitan Pole of Hellinicon – Agios Cosmas”, underlying that the nominal value for the whole area is calculated in $34,184,617,255 and not $1.1 million, amount that LAMDA Development has to grant .
The contract has to be ratified by the Greek parliament and the Court of Auditors’ ruling is not yet publicized. [12, 13].
Actually, Lamda Development announced the beginning of the project, but no works have taken place so far. The Struggle Committee continues its struggle against the development of the site and demands the creation of a public metropolitan park, while all civil society’s activities hosted in the former airport go on.