Tallinn TV tower revival in the works

  • 2008-10-01
  • By Matt Withers

SKY HIGH: After being out of use for many months, Tallinn's TV tower is to become a new conference center for the city.

TALLINN - Having stood idle for many months, the Tallinn TV tower is set to be converted into a conference center after new talks between the Tallinn city government and the landmark's owner, Levira.
A new plan has emerged from collaboration between Levira and the Ministry of Economic Affairs, potentially resolving debate between Levira and the Tallinn city government over the sale of the tower.
The Estonian newspaper Eesti Paevaleht reports that the Ministry of Economic Affairs has applied for an investment subsidy of nearly 100 million kroons (6.39 million euros), while Levira has committed 16 million kroons (one million euros) as a co-investment. 

The ministry envisions the tower's five-hectare territory being transformed into a theme park, hobby center or water park to form an integrated complex with the nearby botanical gardens. Ministry officials believe that the combined attraction would make a strong addition to Tallinn's tourist circuit.
Aare Siimon, a board member at Levira, said that the development would be a renaissance for the region's tallest tower, whose high-altitude restaurant was closed last December after failing to meet fire safety requirements.

Urmas Ojamaa, administrative manager of Levira, said previously that the company was forced to close the structure in accordance with laws introduced in 2004 that require technical structures like the Tallinn TV tower to have two emergency exits.

"The reason for closing the viewing platform and the restaurant is that the tower does not meet emergency exit requirements. At present it has only one narrow set of stairs that spirals inside the tower, and it is only 66 centimeters wide," Urmas Ojamaa said.

However, Siimon said that government investment in the project would see these issues quickly resolved.
"As part of the project we will renovate lifts and solve the fire safety issue," said Siimon.
Prior to the current arrangement, it appeared as though the Tallinn government would take ownership of the landmark. The city and Levira had staged talks over the selling of the iconic tower, the city having a strong interest in the TV tower due to its potential as a tourist attraction.
In May Levira offered the tower to the city for 70 million kroons (4.47 million euros) or the right of superficies at a rate of 11 million kroons (703,026 euros) per year.

The city rejected the offer; Deputy Mayor of Tallinn Jaanus Mutli said in July that the city would not pay for the tower because it had previously belonged to the Estonian state and had been given to Levira for free.
As no suitable compromise emerged, plans to reopen the inoperative tower were shelved. Now, with proposed intervention from the Ministry of Economic Affairs, the tower will be restored with business facilities and tourist appeal, potentially benefiting both parties.

The tower stands 314 meters tall and offers stunning views of Tallinn. It was built for the 1980 Summer Olympics regatta event.