Big Tallinn downtown development planned

  • 2001-11-22
  • Aleksei Gunter
TALLINN - On Viru Square in downtown Tallinn, where an old, empty parking lot sits now, may son be sprouting a major shopping center, underground bus terminal and leisure center, if city officials have their way. Tallinn is planning to sign a cooperation agreement on the development of the area Nov. 22.

Tallinn Deputy Mayor Heiki Kivimaa says the redevelopment project on the square is the largest being carried out in cooperation with the private sector. He believes it is being done for the best

"Viru Square is the heart of Tallinn, and its development is mostly meant for city residents above all. [The development] will improve the overall image of the city and will make it more attractive for tourists," he said.

A morning meeting held at a restaurant near the mayor's office, designed to bring together city officials and residents to discuss the new development, was sparsely attended.

Some point to the low attendance as a sign that interest in the Viru Square development is dismal, but others suggest it was just the 8 a.m. meeting time that many couldn't stomach.

Viru Valjaku Arenduse OU, a business entity formed by Merko Ehitus construction company and SRV Kinnisvara real estate firm, will carry out all the work. The contractor acquired the square on June 14 for 65 million kroons ($3.71 million) and plans to spend another 500 million kroons to complete the project.

The city will finance the bus terminal, the tunnel system and reconstruction of the old underground communication infrastructure at a cost of 200 million kroons, funded by a long-term loan from Eesti Uhispank bank.

According to Viru Valjaku Arenduse, work will start next March, and the square should have its new look by the end of 2003.

Nineteen acres are set to be remodeled into 20,000 square meters of shopping area, 10,000 square meters of service and office space and about 3,000 square meters of leisure and entertainment facilities.

Alvar Ild, a real estate development specialist from Viru Valjaku Arenduse OU, said the new mall in Viru Square will cater to more than just Finnish tourists.

In addition to a shopping and entertainment center and a parking lot, the new Viru Square complex will also house an up-to-date public transport terminal that will unite the bus stops currently scattered in three different parts of the square.

"With the help of the underground bus terminal people will be able to change a number of buses without coming into the open air," said Kivimaa.

Enclosed galleries will connect several buildings presently located on the square with the new complex.