Fate of Liberty manor complex not to be determined before spring 2020

  • 2020-01-14
  • BNS/TBT Staff

TALLINN – The Estonian government is to decide over the future of the Liberty manor complex located in the Rocca al Mare district of Tallinn in spring of this year, at the earliest.

"Work is ongoing to find the best use for the Liberty complex. It is important that the complex is fixed and that its use is sustainable. The intention is to go to the government with a proposal for a solution this spring," Minister of Public Administration Jaak Aab told BNS.

In 2017, President Kersti Kaljulaid abandoned the plan to renovate and turn the Liberty manor complex in Rocca al Mare into the president's residence. The Office of the President last year compensated from its budget the contractual responsibilities in the amount of 354,000 euros originating from the cancellation of the construction of the Liberty residence of the President of the Republic to the state-owned real estate company RKAS.

The annual expenses for the Liberty manor are between 13,000 and 16,000 euros, approximately half of which is made up by land tax and the rest by security and maintenance expenses, which include cleaning and seasonal maintenance as well as technical maintenance, including the maintenance and repair of security systems.

It emerged in February 2014 that RKAS started negotiations with the Office of the President to relocate the presidential residence to the Liberty manor located near the Estonian Open Air Museum. The manor would have included the president's reception and residential premises, while the residence would have also allowed to host foreign visitors. The construction work was scheduled to begin in fall 2015.

However, the plan started lagging already in fall 2014 when the public procurement for the design of the manor failed the first time. At the end of 2014, RKAS signed a 206,250 euro agreement with the architectural and engineering office Novarc Group OU, the winner of the second tender, for the design and design supervision services of the residence.

The first construction tender also failed because no company agreed to make an offer within the estimated cost of the tender agreement, that is 4.4 million euros.

Due to the delay, the Office of the President was unable to decide over the establishment of the building during the term of office of Toomas Hendrik Ilves, which is why the construction decision reached the table of President Kersti Kaljulaid, who assumed office in October 2016.

In February 2017, the Office of the President decided to abandon the plan tabled during the tenure of Toomas Hendrik Ilves to renovate the seaside Liberty estate.

Jaak Aab, then minister of public administration, in December 2017 gave hope to the Open Air Museum that the museum may be given possession of the Liberty manor building. The Open Air Museum, which used the Liberty estate also before 2014, said that the renovation of the manor would cost 2.8 million euros and the museum wanted to get the money from the state.

The Liberty summer estate of the Koch family is the most comprehensively preserved summer mansion in Tallinn as well as a significant example of the socio-economic organization of life of the 18th to 20th century. The 68,806 square meter property currently houses seven buildings and the foundation of the Old-Liberty building.