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Greece's Lamda eyes autumn start for airport site redevelopment

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ATHENS, May 12 (Reuters) - Lamda Development is hopeful that it can start one of Greece's biggest urban redevelopment plans in the autumn if it secures the property from the state next month, the group's top executive said on Wednesday.

The 1,500-acre Hellenikon airport site on the Athens coast, where disused runways, terminals and former Olympic venues have sat abandoned for almost two decades, will eventually house shopping malls, hotels and residences under a 99-year lease with the state.

Shopping mall developer Lamda won a government tender for the redevelopment of the site in 2014 but after years of delays due to red tape, political resistance and local opposition, has yet to be handed control.

Last summer demolition crews began tearing down the first of hundreds of blocks that need to be removed from the site, which is three times the size of Monaco.

"If the transfer (of shares) takes place in June...you'll start seeing construction work, if not in the summer, in the autumn," Lamda Development CEO Odisseas Athanasiou told an economic conference in Athens.

The finance ministry was not available to comment.

Athanasiou said he expected a "torrent" of proposals by investors for the eight-billion-euro project once privately-owned Lamda takes control.

The developer plans to set up partnerships and has already secured 2.5 billion euros ($3.03 billion) to help finance construction of the necessary infrastructure and buildings for the first five years, he said.

The conservative government that took power in 2019 has vowed to speed up the project, which is expected to help its efforts to pull the country out of a recession induced by the coronavirus pandemic following a decade-long financial crisis.

A consortium led by U.S. casino operator Mohegan Gaming & Entertainment plans to build and operate a luxury resort for 30 years on the site. ($1 = 0.8261 euros) (Reporting by Angeliki Koutantou;Editing by Elaine Hardcastle)