Greece to draw up boundaries for huge Athens riviera resort

ATHENS, March 23 (Reuters) - Greece will soon define the

boundaries of a site where investors plan to spend 7.9 billion

euros ($8.5 billion) to build one of Europe's biggest coastal

resorts, the culture ministry said, in a sign the delayed

project may eventually go ahead.

A consortium of Abu Dhabi and Chinese investors,

led by Greece's Lamda, signed a deal in 2014 for the

99-year lease of a sprawling area at the former Athens airport

in Hellenikon and the development of a coastal town.

Greek lawmakers cleared the investment last summer and

investors hoped excavation works could start in the first half

of this year.

But the investment, a key part of Greece's privatisation

drive under its latest international bailout, has been fraught

with delays as the authorities dragged their feet in demarcating

the area and providing the necessary licensing.

A group of 18 lawmakers from the ruling leftist Syriza party

last month asked the culture ministry to put the plan under the

supervision of its archaeological services to avert possible

litigation and compensation demands from the consortium should

antiquities be found at the site.

In a letter of reply published on the parliament's website

late on Wednesday, the ministry said it was at the final stage

of determining the boundaries of the site.

But it added all planned works would be closely monitored by

Greek archaeological experts before any permit was given and

said construction work would stop for as long as needed for the

authorities to evaluate, move or showcase any antiquities that

may be found.

The former Athens airport in Hellenikon closed in 2001 and

cash-strapped Greece has been trying for more than a decade to

turn 170 acres of coastal land into something that can produce

jobs and boost the economy.

($1 = 0.9276 euros)

(Reporting by Angeliki Koutantou; Editing by Mark Potter)