Athens Merchants' Arcade reopens after 20 year hiatus
The Merchants Arcade, located one block away from Syntagma Square in central Athens, is open for business after having been shut down for 20 years.
The Athens city council helped rejuvinate the two level covered passage lined with small stores that had been gathering rubbish up until recently, while also providing a temporary shelter for some of the capital's homeless.
As part of a municipality program aimed at reviving abandoned buildings or neighborhoods, eight businesses with an emphasis on social entrepreneurship have been chosen to lease a store in the arcade, free of rent for the first six months.
They include CooCoo Creations, that sells handmade crafts and offers seminars on this, and Project Layali, a non profit group tha creates businesses employing refugees and migrants.
"In the center of the city, we are creating a spirit of growth and social entrepreneurship, an ideal environment where young entrepreneurs will be able to create and develop their ideas, while contibuting at the same time towards the community," said Athens mayor Giorgos Kaminis.
Designed in 1950, the arcade was once a busy hub of retail stores. It is owned by the EFKA social security fund.
Its reopening comes after the Athens municipality provided the same assistance program to businesses in the run down area of Plateia Theatro, located around the corner from town hall.
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