“We have to show the city’s beautiful side as well because it continues to be a great city, even though it is a wounded goddess,” added the minister. Projects for the first phase of the scheme are due to be tendered over the next six to nine months with the aim of being completed by the end of 2015. The projects will have several broad themes. The first will be to boost entrepreneurial activity. This will involve three abandoned hotels, the Megas Alexandros, Bageion and Olympia, around Omonia Square being refurbished and rented to innovative start-ups. Another theme is improving the quality of life of city center residents. To achieve this, authorities plan to build more nursery schools, health centers, homeless shelters and centers for disabled children.
These services will be installed in buildings owned by social security funds. More cycle lanes were also pledged. In addition, there will be attempts to improve infrastructure, such as 11 squares and numerous sidewalks. It has also been proposed that stores in the municipality of Athens, which covers the wider downtown area, be allowed to open on Sundays. This move appears to have the backing of the Athens Traders Association but is opposed by the National Confederation of Greek Commerce (ESEE). “Any exception to the rule [on Sunday openings] is unconstitutional and leads to unfair competition,” ESEE president Vassilis Korkidis told Kathimerini.