Interview with the team of the Ellinikon project at Lamda Development. The 3.5 km long coastal area is to welcome accommodations, leisures and facilities in a brand new place.
Could you tell us about the genesis of this project? What were the objectives when the project was officially signed in 2014?
The Ellinikon has always been a high-profile project for Greece. Talks of the old Airport redevelopment has been ongoing since it closed in 2001. Lamda Development was declared preferred investor in 2014, following an international tender performed by the Greek privatization agency HRADF, within the frame of which it submitted an extensive masterplan with a focus on creating a unique 21st century “city within a city”. We are working full speed towards the completion of our vision.
The project objectives remained stable since the beginning and guide our every decision. The Ellinikon combines in the best possible way our country’s past, present, and future.
The Ellinikon will be a sustainable city with new architectural landmarks like the Riviera Tower, Riviera Galleria, open spaces for all such as The Ellinikon Park and the upgraded coastal front, with references to our history, but also looking to the future incorporating state-of-the-art technologies in all areas. It will be a place where, within a 15-minute walk or cycle, you can work, live and enjoy quality time. We call it the "art of living" and as you can understand there are many reasons for that. In The Ellinikon we are creating a unique model city that will be a benchmark for urban regeneration, forming a world class destination reshaping the face of Athens and drawing an international interest.
Who are the stakeholders? How do you work with Athens’ government?
The total investment budget for The Ellinikon amounts to €8 billion over a 20-year period, of which €915 million will be paid in instalments to the Greek state for the acquisition of the land. LAMDA Development has already paid the first instalment of €300 million to the Greek state upon signing the shares transfer agreement in late June 2021. Over the 20-year period, the remaining approximately €7 billion relate to capital expenditure and other expenses regarding the project development.
The first 5-year phase of the project, scheduled for completion in mid-2026, includes prime residential developments on coastal front, including the first green high-rise residential tower in Greece; two state-of-the-art shopping and entertainment retail destinations, including the development of the largest shopping mall in Greece; prime office space; two luxury hotels and branded residences on the coastal front; a mixed-use tower consisted of hotel, branded residences and prime office space; the largest part of the 2 million sq. m. Metropolitan Park, which will be the largest coast park in Europe. The total investment budget in the first 5-year phase amounts to approximately €2.5 billion.
To finance the required outflows in the first 5-year phase, LAMDA Development has already successfully completed (1.1 times oversubscribed by existing shareholders and new investors) a €650 million Share Capital Increase in late 2019.
Moreover, LAMDA Development has issued two Greek retail bonds of total €550 million (€320 million issue in July 2020 and its first green bond issue of €230m in July 2022), both of which have registered very strong demand from Greek investors (the level of private investor participation is a historic record for the Bond Market on Athens Exchange), demonstrating investors’ confidence towards LAMDA Development as well as the investing public’s perception of The Ellinikon in particular.
In addition, LAMDA Development has secured financing from Greek Banks worth approximately €1.2 billion.
Buying interest for the luxury residential developments on the coastal front, namely the Riviera Tower, the Cove Villas and the Cove Residences, has exceeded initial expectations, increasing confidence on the revenue side as well as bringing forward new residential developments in the first 5-year phase. To highlight the significant interest registered thus far, buyers’ interest for all plots of The Cove Villas has already been secured, with the estimated total revenues from the land plots sales during the first 5-year phase at approximately €190 million. With regards to the Riviera Tower, customer reservations correspond to c.90% of the net saleable area (NSA), and the estimated total revenues for all residential units on the Riviera Tower during the first 5-year phase amount to €600 million. Finally, with regards the Cove Residences, customer reservations correspond to 75% of the net saleable area (NSA), and the estimated total revenues for all residential units on the Riviera Tower during the first 5-year phase amount to approximately €270 million. Therefore, the aggregate estimated revenues from the aforesaid residential projects during the first 5-year phase amount to almost €1.1 billion.
Furthermore, initial interest for the commercial/retail developments in The Ellinikon has also exceeded expectations, since expressions of interest have been already submitted by tenants corresponding to 87% of the Gross Leasable Area (GLA) on the Vouliagmenis Mall, the retail development within the Commercial Hub in Vouliagmenis Avenue. Similarly, for the retail development in the area of Marina Ag. Kosmas on the Coastal Front, namely the Riviera Galleria, expressions of interest have been already submitted by tenants corresponding to over 60% of GLA.
In the next three years, we expect the country's investment attractiveness to improve substantially, with The Ellinikon being among the key drivers of economic growth, accelerating Greece's macroeconomic growth.
As a symbol of Greece's new era, we see The Ellinikon benefiting the entire country. In addition to contributing 2.4% to the country's GDP, this €8 billion project will provide the state with over €14 billion in estimated tax revenue. By providing access to jobs and training, the Ellinikon will promote a more inclusive economy. Over 85,000 jobs are expected to be created, and this will enhance Greece's reputation as an attractive tourist destination, business hub, and investment destination.
Which elements are you the proudest of in that project?
We are proud that The Ellinikon is truly a project for all to enjoy. Apart from the unique architecture, this is going to be the first smart city in the world created from scratch. Everything will be around technology. Furthermore, we have a responsibility to ensure it is a blueprint for all future development at every stage.
The Ellinikon Park, for example, will become a 2 million sqm green oasis that will upgrade Athens and its coastal front for everyone to enjoy. This will be the largest coastal park in Europe, which will be positioned in the heart of The Ellinikon and will be accessible to all. In addition, the park’s design centres on ecological restoration, material reuse, and cultural programming that honours the site’s layered histories. The program will incorporate an impressive diversity of elements including a sculpture garden, an agricultural precinct, an amphitheatre, a sports district, nature-based play areas, multiple community recreational opportunities and more.
Other upgrades include a more than 1 km. sandy beach, where city residents and visitors can swim, exercise, and be entertained. Lamda Development’s goal is to transform The Ellinikon site and the Athenian Riviera into a world-class high-quality destination. We also expect a knock-on effect to the quality of life for the municipalities which are close to the site – increasing the value which will be added to neighbouring municipalities.
As The Ellinikon is truly a place for all to appreciate, the residential community is no different. The opportunities to purchase a home include a very broad range of properties at different price points - for both international and local buyers.
For all of the public spaces, Lamda Development bares the cost. We are proud that this project for all to enjoy will be completed with the taxpayer paying zero. We want to create new, beautiful, green, open spaces and amenities for every citizen and visitor.
How many hospitality accommodations are to settle within the destination? How many restaurants?
The Ellinikon represents Europe’s largest urban retail district. The retail square-footage itself spans 237,000 square meters, making the retail district approximately six percent of the non-park space, presenting a lucrative entry into Greece and Europe for international and local brands alike.
As a 15-minute city, The Ellinikon is designed to allow the resident and visitor experience to flow seamlessly between the abundance of retail, residential, recreational, commercial, and hospitality experiences. Because of this, a full day at The Ellinikon can contain all of these elements, all while channelling the city’s themes of traditional Greek culture infused with modern and futuristic retail – among other experiences.
The major retail destinations are the Riviera Galleria and the Commercial Hub. Each major destination is unique, but both share common elements, such as breath-taking surroundings not easily found elsewhere in the world and a wide variety of retail opportunities that bring together the most well-known, up-and-coming, and local brands.
The Riviera Galleria is a unique destination for premium brands, situated at the heart of the Athenian Riviera alongside the coast’s newest residential enclave. It will feature haute couture as well as top Greek and foreign designers’ boutiques. Dining options will offer stunning sea views from the first-level verandas, as well as a large variety of spots, including award-winning restaurants, elegant cafés and bistros. Major cultural and music events, art exhibitions and fashion festivals will also be held here, as every moment spent at Riviera Galleria is an opportunity to inspire and entertain both visitors and residents alike. The Riviera Galleria will be situated at the newly created marina of the Ellinikon, a dynamic hub and destination, offering a new luxury yacht destination with 310 berths. It is too early for the exact number of restaurants, however in terms of hospitality facilities Lamda Development has already signed a joint venture agreement for the development of two 5-star hotel units in collaboration with the TEMES group. This is the company that has developed another very popular Greek destination, Costa Navarino, and is also the owner of a landmark hotel in Athens, the former Athens Hilton Hotel which is currently undergoing a significant refurbishment to be rebranded into Conrad Hotel (including also Conrad and Waldorf Astoria branded residences).
The Commercial Hub is a vibrant living destination. Spanning over 185,000 sq. m., capped by a futuristic tower with spectacular views, the Commercial Hub will be a lifestyle centre for every need and every experience. As a Hub it is envisioned to contain the shopping centre of the future, setting a new benchmark for retail destinations across Europe and continuously enhancing the quality of consumer experiences, the performance of the brands, and the return to investors and the local community. It will be a unique family destination for shopping and entertainment, dining, and the leisure found within will be driven by technology and state-of-the-art design. This destination will also feature a hotel.
How did you work with state-of-the-art representatives to preserve this coastal area form negative impacts due to the constructions?
We are designing The Ellinikon as one of the largest urban regeneration projects in Europe, bringing in top experts from all fields to ensure that a comprehensive green strategy is being employed at The Ellinikon, making it one of the world’s most sustainable real estate undertakings.
Specifically for the coastal area, an environment monitoring plan is already in place, to monitor various environmental parameters such as seawater quality, bottom sediment quality and benthic plant communities. We are also developing all the appropriate coastal protection works such as two submerged breakwaters and a groyne to ensure the nearshore sustainability.
But our planning goes beyond the protection of the coastal front to improving it in order to future proof the project. It will make great strides towards reducing urban and suburban heat island effects and building a more resilient coastline to sea level rise. The seawater level rise and more severe wave action induced by climate change have been considered in the design of the marine works of the site. A coastal flooding study associated with the effects of climate change has been conducted, different climate change projections have been studied and taken into account for the design of the coastline and the nearby developments. Additionally, his project will integrate a circular waste management system that captures water and an energy-efficient electric vehicle infrastructure and AR navigation.
When is the project to be accessible?
The first part of The Ellinikon Park, the Experience Park was delivered to the public in December 2021. Covering over 19 acres, with more than 80,000 plants and many experiences and activities, it quickly became a beloved spot for the public from day one. Additionally, last May we introduced to the public the Experience Centre within The Experience Park, a state-of-the-art, interactive Visitor’s Centre that illustrates how The Ellinikon development will be a city of the Future and an international blueprint for urban development. The next stage is phase one (due to be finished in mid-2026) which includes all the commercial and retail, the coastal front, the luxury residential on the coastal front as well as certain mainstream residential developments and the largest section of The Ellinikon Park.
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