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Study shows Elaionas area will suffer if factories relocate October 24, 2006

Posted by grhomeboy in Architecture Greece.
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IPE-IOBE study shows area will suffer if factories relocate

Plans for the construction of the Panathinaikos soccer stadium do not include any arrangement for the future of some 100 businesses that employ around 450 people and have been in the area for 20-30 years.

Change is taking place rapidly. In spring of 2007, two new metro stations will open, one in Votanikos (Gazi station) and another in Elaionas (Panathinaikos). Attiko Metro (http://www.ametro.gr) has also contracted for the construction of an 8.8-hectare train depot at Elaionas, which is scheduled for delivery by the end of next year.

Bus terminal > A little to the west, construction of a new KTEL intercity bus terminal is planned.

“The new terminal will serve the 32 KTEL buses now at Kifissou Avenue and the 11 now at Liosion Street, and is estimated to cater to 35-40,000 passengers a day,” Kifissou KTEL’s president, Sofoklis Fatsios, said. “The station will cover 9 hectares, of which 2.2 hectares will be devoted to stores. The construction budget is 50 million euros and completion time is 18 months.”

All the studies for the new terminal have been finished but the project has struck a snag. “The studies were submitted in 2004. We are waiting for the Ministry of the Environment, Planning and Public Works (YPEHODE) to decide.”

It has also been decided to build a mosque on a 12.1-hectare plot owned by the Navy Chiefs of Staff.

These interventions in the center of an area that many consider to have been deliberately run down, have already affected the price of real estate. And the expansion toward the west of a new residential and entertainment center from Gazi to Votanikos and the neighborhood of Akadimia Platonos (Plato’s Academy), as well as the creation of an entertainment center in Rendi area have begun to exert pressure on the area around Elaionas.

“The cleanup of the area, which was decided in two presidential decrees (1049 D/95 and 742 D/96) did not go ahead,” analyst Eleni Grigoriou from the Athens Chamber of Industry said. “The municipalities involved, Athens, Tavros, Rendi, Peristeri and Aegaleo, have implemented the decrees only to a very limited extent and in substance things have remained the way they were. In fact, in recent years, the municipalities have been pushing in the reverse direction, to change land use so as to get rid of the factories and permit the creation of entertainment areas.”

According to a study by the Regional Development Institute (IPE) and the Foundation for Economic and Industrial Research (IOBE), removing the factories from Elaionas would have unfavorable consequences.

“It isn’t realistic to ask the factories to leave Elaionas,” Panteion University Vice Rector Thanassis Papadaskalopoulos and lecturer Manolis Christofakis said. “The Elaionas area has retained its economic strength and still has businesses in primary and tertiary industries that make a significant contribution to employment and incomes on a local and regional level. We believe that its productive character should be preserved by the reorganization of land use and the designation of zones for each type of activity.”

The 1995 presidential decree stipulates that tanneries, metal-plating works, pottery kilns and cement factories must leave Elaionas by November 2007. But the IPE-IOBE study deems that implementing the decision without first arranging a site for them to transfer to will create serious problems in the market.

The study, which was conducted on behalf of the Athens Regulatory Plan Organization, found there are some 2,500 businesses in Elaionas, of which around 40 percent are medium-sized. On average, the businesses have been in operation for 20 years.

Given the anarchic development of the area, and the new dynamic arising from the projects, it is vital that not only Votanikos but also the area surrounding Elaionas be better organized.

“There is no organized strategy, but many municipalities are exerting pressure in different directions because they have different plans for the area,” said Papadaskalopoulos. “But this is not the way to achieve the right development of economic activity, or to find fertile ground for large projects.”

“Land use is a mess at Elaionas now,” architect Ivi Nanopoulou said. “The position of the Panathinaikos soccer stadium creates a new dynamic but it is a local project that does not guarantee any broader development. This is where the state should come in and deal with the area as a whole, as they did in London with Wembley Stadium. There must be a strategic plan for the market to follow, rather than letting the market shape the area.”

Elaionas is ready for new development October 24, 2006

Posted by grhomeboy in Architecture Greece.
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Real estate sales have shot up, as have prices, amid growing pressure to site location for a new residential and entertainment complex

Elaionas 2006: The Panathinaikos soccer stadium, two metro stations and a new intercity bus terminal are in the pipeline. These major projects, which are an attempt to upgrade the area, have already made the price of real estate take off in this area in western Athens.

On the region’s outskirts, multiplex cinemas, live-music venues and bars are taking the place of machine shops and warehouses, as new entertainment locales develop. But alongside these bright business plans there are still 2,500 businesses in secondary and tertiary industries which have been in operation for decades.

Rapid changes in the area have brought up the issue of whether Elaionas will develop by means of any overall strategic plan that would impose order in the area or if it will be left to its fate.

Construction of the new 40,000-seat Panathinaikos soccer stadium (PAO), a 6,000-seat indoor field and a 50,000-square-meter mall was announced in the spring and approved in summer.

Before talks between the City of Athens and Panathinaikos, which had formed a special company, Dipli Anaplasi (DA), for the purpose, were completed, large business groups started seeking out real estate in the area, and prices shot up as much as 20 percent. The biggest sale was announced just a few days ago. Babis Vovos Diethnis Techniki SA announced the purchase of two large blocks of land, with a total area of more than 10 hectares, from ETMA and its subsidiary ELLATEX in the area being refurbished for 50 million euros.

Meanwhile, Dipli Anaplasi is trying to get things moving. “In the next 20 days, the city will acquire the areas belonging to the National Bank, 7.5 hectares for 20.3 million euros, and ETMA, around 5.3 hectares in exchange for the famous block of land No. 45” DA chief Theodoros Skylakakis said. “Expropriations of the remaining properties in the refurbishment area will be announced in early November.”

Some residents refuse to leave > The area in Votanikos where the new Panathinaikos soccer stadium (PAO) is to be built is deserted and full of trash. Its refurbishment will help to attract development to all of Elaionas.

Plans for the construction of the Panathenaikos soccer stadium (PAO) do not include any arrangement for the future of some 100 businesses that currently operate on the site. As Athens Chamber of Industry President Pavlos Ravanis said, those businesses employ around 450 people and have been in the area for 20-30 years. “We haven’t received any information from anyone,” complained one of the local businessmen, who has a factory in the neighborhood. “We are in favor of the refurbishment but it cannot be done by wiping us off the map. We’ve made inquiries everywhere and they keep sending us from pillar to post. There is no plan to transfer us to Elaionas, nor has anyone mentioned compensation. We will fight, by all legal means.”

That view is shared by a local family, one of the few that are permanent residents in the neighborhood. “When you have lived in a run-down neighborhood for 60 years, you hope that things will improve one day. At long last, the metro comes, there is a revamp and then they throw us out by mandatory expropriation,” the family protested. “We are determined to appeal to the Council of State; it’s our last weapon against the injustice that has been done to us.”

Tourism revenues up greatly in last decade > report October 24, 2006

Posted by grhomeboy in Tourism.
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Tourism-related foreign exchange revenues significantly exceeded the inflation rate over the last decade, growing by 134.4 percent at a period when economic output grew by 44 percent, evidence of the tourism sector’s increasing importance for the Greek economy, a report by EFG Eurobank stated on Tuesday.

The report, signed by the bank’s chief financial consultant, Gikas Hardouvelis, said Greece was a “mature tourism destination”, but faced increased competition from emerging Mediterranean destinations, particularly in terms of price level.

Greece’s market share, in terms of tourist arrivals, declined in the last two years, from 1.9 pct in 2003 to 1.6 pct in 2005, while its share of tourism revenues remained unchanged at 2.0 percent.

The report said tourism revenues per arrival grew to 862 euros in 2005 from 739 euros in 2003. The report underlined that the average size of a Greek hotel unit rose to 75 beds in 2005 from 65 in 1990, but remained smaller compared with other competitor countries.

Tourism revenues per hotel unit and per bed significantly lagged behind other competitors, at 1.22 million euros in 2005 and 16,200 euros, respectively, in 2005. In Croatia, the figures were 6.1 million euros and 30,400 euros over the same period.

The report also said that seven in 10 Greek households chose June, July or August for their vacations, with Attica (the greater Athens area), Cyclades islands and Halkidiki of Northern Greece as the top destinations. Most households’ overnight stays were at their private vacation home, or in friends’ and relatives’ houses.

Annual tourism-related spending by Greek households totaled 1.54 billion euros, or 1.0 percent of GDP (in current prices). Including spending on travel abroad, the figure totaled 1.3 pct of GDP.

Greeks use elections as excuse to escape abroad October 24, 2006

Posted by grhomeboy in Lifestyle, Tourism.
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The mayoral and prefectural elections held the last two weekends have boosted not only local democracy, but also tourism.

Data collected by the Hellenic Association of Tourism and Travel Agents (HATTA) shows that, instead of heading to the election booths, many Greeks chose to make three-day trips, mainly to European destinations.

Yiannis Evangelou, the president of HATTA, said that organized trips over the last two weekends from Greece have shown an unusual increase compared to the same time last year, particularly for destinations such as Rome, Paris, Prague and London.

Estimates suggest that the increase in the sale of tourism packages on these two weekends reached 20 to 25 percent over the same weekend in 2005. Yet besides European trips, many Greeks also took advantage of the polling days to make short outings to destinations within the country, and not necessarily to where they were supposed to vote.

On the contrary, the tourism market is sorry to see the National holiday of October 28 falling on a Saturday this year. Traditionally, this holiday is the first long weekend after the summer season, so travel agencies usually expect demand for packages for Greece and abroad to pick up. This year indications show that the sale of packages will be reduced compared to the same period in previous years.

As far as the Christmas and New Year’s holiday period is concerned, the first packages will be announced by the travel market in early November. As Evangelou suggests, the pricing policy that travel agencies will follow is going be similar to that of last year, without significant changes.

The HATTA president believes that just as in previous years, their home country will be Greeks’ top choice over the holiday period. Evangelou advises those who are interested in spending their holidays within Greece to make their reservations as early as possible, given the shortage of accommodation during the winter season. 

Greece takes part in handball showcase October 24, 2006

Posted by grhomeboy in Baseball Handball Volleyball.
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Greece is returning to the top tier of international handball with its participation in this year’s World Cup which begins today in Sweden and Germany. The biennial competition includes the top six teams from last year’s World Championship, as well as Sweden and Denmark.

The team of coach Goran Perkovac is in the same group as Spain, Tunisia and Sweden and is facing the latter tonight in Malmoe, Sweden. After elimination from the European Championship, Greece wants to relive the glory of its high-flying days at the Athens Olympics and the World Championship in Tunisia; in both competitions it finished sixth. The top two teams from each group will advance to the semifinals.

EC funds open source quality effort October 24, 2006

Posted by grhomeboy in Internet & Web.
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A consortium looking at the standard of open source code has received €3m from backers

A European Commission-funded consortium has raised over three million euros to fund a project testing the quality of open source software. The consortium is made up from research organisations, consultants and those undertaking open source projects. Known as the Software Quality Observatory for Open Source Software (SQO-OSS), it is half funded by its participants, and half by the European Commission.

Among its goals, the SQO-OSS will benchmark the quality of source code to help to prove its suitability for deployment in businesses. It will also publish a league table rating open source applications according to their perceived quality.

“An industry matures when its products become standardised,” said Diomidis Spinellis, project lead, and professor at the University of Athens in Greece. “Through the objective evaluation of open source projects, SQO-OSS will provide many smaller and less known projects with the visibility and respectability they deserve,” Spinellis added.

SQO-OSS is the second open source project to secure significant funding from the European Commission this month, following the extension in capabilities of the Open Source Observatory.

Analysts noted that similar projects already exist, but indicated that the SQO-OSS could still be valuable. “It’s always nice to have something that certifies open source software. However, this has been done before through initiatives like Coverity and it would be nice not to reinvent the wheel,” said Laurent Lachal, open source research director at Ovum.

Coverity is an American company that is being funded by the US government to help make open source code as secure as possible.

Lachal believes that SQO-OSS needs to form links with the likes of Coverity, otherwise they are “just spending public money for the sake of public money.” He added that companies are typically more concerned about the quality of open source support, rather than the code itself. “It would be nice if, apart from evaluating code, they also evaluated support,” Lachal suggested.

The consortium consists of UK-based IT services group Sirius IT, KDE and ProSyst from Germany, Sweden’s KDAB and the Greek Universities of Athens and Thessaloniki. Its output will be released under the BSD licence.

A concert inspired by Greek poet October 24, 2006

Posted by grhomeboy in Hellenic Light Americas.
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It took first-century Latin poet, Publius Ovidius Naso, otherwise known as Ovid, to inflame the creative minds of artists, writers and musicians for the next 2,000 years, from Chaucer, Shakespeare, Milton, and Bach, to Mozart, Beethoven, Picasso and Margaret Atwood.

It is said that his 15-volume anthology Metamorphoses, next to the Bible, is the most influential book in the history of European culture.

On Sunday October 29, at 2:30 p.m. at the Port Theatre, the Vancouver Island Symphony is honoured to present the Tafelmusik Baroque Orchestra, with famed Canadian actor R.H. Thomson portraying Ovid, in Metamorphosis: From Myth to Music.

Artistic director and concertmaster Jeanne Lamon will lead Tafelmusik in works by Rameau, Lully, Vivaldi, Purcell, Marini, Bach and Marias, in a program designed to recapture the spirit in which Ovid’s stories were painted in music, particularly in seventeenth and eighteenth century France and the court of Louis XIV.

Thomson, as Ovid, will provide the telling of a few of those Greek myths that influenced the music of the baroque period, tales of transformation and metamorphoses, like Castor and Pollux, Axis and Galatea, Echo, Pygmalion, the Three Graces, the Contest of Pan and Apollo, and Alcyone.

Tafelmusik, Canada’s revered period instrument orchestra, was founded in 1979 and since 1981 has been under the direction of Lamon. The orchestra’s success has taken it around the world, with regular tours across North America, Europe and Asia, and the production of an impressive collection of over 70 recordings. Tafelmusik also performs over 50 concerts each season at its home base, the historic Trinity-St. Paul’s Centre in downtown Toronto.

The orchestra has a core of 18 musicians, each a specialist in historical performance practice. They perform on original instruments or modern replicas, faithful in design and construction to the originals, that means hand-made sheep gut strings instead of nylon and metal. The result is an entirely different orchestral sound; softer, richer, fuller.

Tickets for Metamorphosis: from Myth to Music are available at the Port Theatre at 754-8550.  

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