Retail Week Interiors - Department store complex set to open in central Athens next year

Athens city centre is to be boosted by a major lifestyle complex including a hotel, theatre, health spa and gym, and anchored by two large department stores

The site at the former Army Share Fund building is due to open fully next year. The Link development is being funded by Piraeus Bank Group property offshoot Picar, and the design strategy is being created by London-based JHP.

Positioned opposite the Greek parliament and at the crossroads between Kolonaki and Ermou streets (the 'Knightsbridge and Oxford Street' of the city respectively), a deliberately contemporary design has been implemented within the listed facades of the historic, four-storey structure.

'The Link is shamelessly targeted at the Athenian A-crowd,' said JHP joint managing director Steve Collis. 'Athens lacks environments that reflect contemporary luxury. With an amazing atrium space, roof gardens, a glass floor that allows shoppers to watch people swimming in the pool below and a boutique hotel that will include a branch of Spoon, The Link will help fill that gap.'

JHP began work on the project last September and has developed a strategy to create a 24-hour, seven-day-a-week centre. 'We also had to work within planning constraints related to the facade and the legendary coffee shop Zonar,' said Collis. 'The cafe is closed during the building work, but it is being retained and will form part of one of the two department stores within the building.'

Fit-outs of the retail element are expected to begin in September, with one international and one national department store to anchor the development.

Two flagship spaces are being created, with Louis Vuitton expected to occupy one.

Developer Picar was specifically formed for the purpose of developing and operating the building and is 90 per cent owned by Piraeus Bank Group, with the balance of shares held by Greek fashion retailer Carouzos. The working capital of Picar is presently EUR44 million (£29.4 million).