Golden Visa bonus for foreigners buying luxury homes at Ellinikon in Athens

The program provides visas for those who invest at least 500,000 euros ($547,953) in property in most areas of Greece and the residences at Ellinikon – as it’s being called – are luxury properties selling for more

Foreign investors scooping up luxury homes at the burgeoning 8-billion euro ($8.77 billion) Ellinikon abandoned international airport project on Athens’ coast will also be eligible for a Golden Visa, giving them residency permits and valuable European Union passports.

The program provides visas for those who invest at least 500,000 euros ($547,953) in property in most areas of Greece, and the residences at Ellinikon – as it’s being called – are luxury properties selling for more.

There are 1,500 homes in phase one with pricing set from 6,000 euros ($6575) per square meter, a lower price than other southern suburbs, according to Odisseas Athanasiou, CEO of Lamda Development, which is building the project, said The Standard.

Overall, there are 8,000 homes planned on the development, with the most upscale being those closest to the coast. Building on the Ellinikon is scheduled to be completed in 10 years, although Athanasiou said there’s a big labour shortage even though some 75,000 jobs are expected to be created.

The Riviera Tower, Greece’s first residential skyscraper, designed by Foster + Partners, has already seen all of its 170 units sold, as has Cove Villas, where all 28 homes are in new hands. Prices have already risen 15 per cent, he said.

The next phase to go up for sale is the Little Athens neighbourhood, bringing about 1,115 new homes in its first phase. The report said that situated near the northwestern coastline, the centrepiece of the neighbourhood is Park Rise, a 50-meter block of flats designed by Bjarke Ingels Group.

At least one-third of the apartments have already been sold. The homes have not yet been marketed abroad, so buyers are 75 per cent Greeks and 25 per cent overseas buyers, many of whom are from the Diaspora and expatriates.

Eventually, Lamda said it expects the number of overseas buyers to be closer to 40 per cent, with interest from residents of several countries, especially with the advantage of the Golden Visa. Once planned to be Europe’s biggest urban park before the financial crisis struck and ideas turned commercial instead, Ellinikon will feature an array of luxury spots, from high-end malls to a marina for big yachts.

It will boast the 45-story Marina Tower, whose residences are so expensive it out priced by all but the wealthiest Greeks, and 30 per cent have already gone to foreigners with deep pockets before construction starts.

THE SMART CITY

In a feature, Al Jazeera pointed to the irony of the project – like others around the country catering to the super-rich – benefiting foreigners and the wealthy in a push to accelerate an economic comeback.

Stelios Bouras, who runs the Greek Guru real estate news website, told the site’s correspondent John Psaropoulos earlier that “the growth in the market which everyone is citing right now in terms of investment is for your high net worth individual from abroad and your top income level in Greece.”

He added: “For the vast majority, there is zero development. And if you look at government policy to increase supply levels, there is almost no movement,” the majority of Greeks left out of the proclaimed success story.

While Ellinikon’s work has yet to begin in earnest, the Greek developers Lamda are touting it, and while there will be a park and green space for the general public, much of the project is tilted toward high-end users and customers.

When done, it will be a 6.2 million square meter (66.73 million square foot) smart city, the construction being the biggest current project in Europe, now still mostly infrastructure projects and a pile of broken rocks after initial foundation digging, and right on the sea.

The developer’s owners said the real estate would average 10,000 euros ($10,600) per square meter, far beyond the reach of most Greeks, 30 per cent of units sold to Syrians, Egyptians, Emiratis, other Europeans, and Americans so far. Athanasiou argued that by attracting foreign buyers, The Ellinikon opened up Greece’s stagnant economy and made no apologies for trying to attract rich buyers to the site.

“For many, many decades, Greece was redistributing the pie of wealth, or poverty, if you will, and now, with the new income that is coming from all places in the world, we are bringing in new money. The new money will be distributed more or less to everybody,” he said.

Described as Europe’s biggest real estate scheme, three times the size of Monaco, the development is seen by many Athenians as signalling a sea change in the city’s, and indeed, the country’s fortunes, with its promise of long-term investment, added The Standard.

It lines a 3.5-kilometre (2.17 mile) coast area, although there wasn’t enough money to depress a busy six-lane roadway that will divide most of the site from the sea, only a partial tunnel with a pedestrian walkway above.

Landmark buildings from big-name international starchitects will feature alongside a new marina with moorings for mega yachts, hotels, a casino, and a 600-acre new public park connecting the city to the beach.

Lamda hopes that, with its two luxury malls, five-star hotels, and branded residences and leisure facilities, the new neighbourhood will also act as a major draw for tourism, turning Athens into a destination in its own right.

Read more at thenationalherald.com

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