ATHENS – Two key projects to improve downtown Athens and its coastline are in doubt after the European Commission has reportedly said they not priorities for European Union funding.
According to reports, the Commission does not believe the pedestrianization of Panepistimiou Street in central Athens and the revamping of the Faliro coast, where the Stavros Niarchos Foundation is building an $803 million cultural center, are essential.
The two projects are estimated to cost 440 million euros but the EU reportedly sees other schemes as priorities, according to Kathinmerini.The Infrastructure and Environment ministries suggested in a joint statement that Greece may make a new attempt to secure funding for the work in the next few months.
Infrastructure Minister Michalis Chrysochoidis said that more information regarding the two projects would be sent to the Commission.
It wasn’t clear how the delay would affect the Niarchos Foundation project, which includes a home for Greece’s National Opera and library.
Foundation officials in February complained the government was doing almost nothing to push the Faliro project despite repeated assurances.
The Foundation, a major philanthropic organization which is also based in New York, said Prime Minister Antonis Samaras’ government, which praised the facility and hyped it as a major cultural investment, failed to do anything about promised plans to revamp the coast leading up to the area.
The foundation even paid for the study on how to improve the coast line, some of which was used for the 2004 Olympics but fell into decline and disuse.
The regeneration of the area was initially seen being completed by the end of 2015, to coincide with the opening of the cultural center. “We are annoyed because works have not progressed at all, despite occasional assurances,” said Giorgos Agouridis, an SNF board member.