Nice digs: London shows off 2012 athletes village

October 25, 2011 - 2:40 PM
Britain Olympic Village

A courtyard garden between structurally complete apartment blocks is seen at the Olympic Village in the Olympic Park in east London, Tuesday, Oct. 25, 2011. So far 2,300 apartments at the Olympic Village have been completed and the final number will be 2,818. (AP Photo/Matt Dunham-Pool)

LONDON (AP) — The apartment was gleaming, the view was to die for, and London Olympic officials could not have been more pleased.

British officials showed off a new apartment Tuesday in the athletes village for the 2012 London Olympics as they announced a milestone — more than 2,012 of the units are now complete.

Actually, 2,300 were now finished — but who's counting? Culture Secretary Jeremy Hunt and Olympic Delivery Authority chief executive Dennis Hone declared the project firmly on schedule for the games that begin July 27 and last until Aug. 12.

"It's a big day for us and a big day for the project," Hone said after they took in the sweeping view of Olympic Park from the apartment's balcony.

Some 17,000 Olympic athletes and 6,000 Paralympic athletes and officials will stay in the village, which will have 2,818 units when completed.

Below the officials, the edge of the village was taking shape. Small touches were being added. A small pond was roped off and grass planted around it. Silver streamers attached to the ropes glimmered in the sun, keeping the birds away from the new plants. Construction workers milled around, with no one seeming very busy.

Maybe that's because there's not that much left to do. Hunt and Hone could barely restrain their glee as they explained the village should be complete by its January 2012 handover date.

But perhaps the tougher choices are to come.

London organizers will give national Olympic committees blocs of rooms, but it is up to the committees to decide which athlete gets what — and with whom they will have to share.

The corner apartment — which would house a maximum of eight — was bright and white, bordered by huge windows. It had four bedrooms, two bathrooms, and an eating area that will become a kitchen after the games, when the apartments are converted to longer-term use. Temporary walls partitioned some of the rooms, but they seemed sturdy enough to last for a few weeks.

Hunt and Hone visited an apartment that will be turned over to affordable housing after the games. Others will be rented or owned, creating a new London neighborhood.

Construction worker Ray Goodison, the plot manager for Lend Lease, which was responsible for the bloc, was happy to show off his crew's efforts.

"It's a very good experience to be doing something like the Olympics," he said. "I'll never get a chance like this in my lifetime."