Tallink to develop port at Tallinn's iconic Linnahall

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Shipping line Tallink is to develop the iconic Linnahall in Tallinn, at an estimated cost of €300 million, with a passenger harbor planned as well as a conference center, concert hall, hotel and shopping center.

Tallink Grupp AS is to ink a deal with Tallinn City Government, ERR's online news in Estonian reports, together with private investment group Infortar AS, which is part owner of Tallink Grupp.

"The Linnahall is not only a valuable historic building, but also the name of a major project," said Tallinn mayor Mihhail Kõlvart on Wednesday, also outlining the various projects planned at the site.

Kõlvart added that talks between Tallink and the City of Tallinn had started last year, adding that further analysis is needed.

 "We have a clear understanding that this is no longer a theoretical concept; the partners have a strong desire to invest and develop the project," Kõlvart said, speaking at a press conference Wednesday lunchtime, where he appeared with Tallink chief Paavo Nõgene, and Ain Hanschmidt of Infortar.

The City of Tallinn will hold a 34 percent stake, with Tallink and Infortar together holding 32 percent, under the plans, Kõlvart said.

""Tallinn will only be investing in the land; financially the city has a symbolic stake of €340,000," Kõlvart went on.

The total estimated project cost is approximately €300 million, according to a Tallink press release.

Paavo Nõgene added his company has a clear vision on how to manage the development.

"The goal is to reconstruct the Linnahall's concert hall in building a 5,000-seat multi-functional conference and concert hall, and to add smaller conference rooms. This can be done sensibly, so as not to require a public grant in the future," said Nõgene, adding that the numbers of visitors, projected at over 10 million, paying off the development.

Underground traffic solutions might also be used to alleviate the already-busy volumes in the area, Kõlvart said.

"This is the problem right now - the traffic management part of this project. There aren't many options, and the traffic has to go underground," he said, noting that a tunnel would take road traffic from the Linnahall area as far as was possible to Ahtri street nearby.

The Linnahall was opened in 1980 in time for the Moscow Summer Olympics, when Tallinn hosted most water-based events like sailing. Originally called the V.I. Lenin Palace of Culture and Sports, and designed by Estonian architects Raine Karp and  Riina Altmäe, the Linnahall is a prime example of later Soviet brutalism-type architecture, mirrored by the National Library building (which had the same architects) on Tõnismägi in the capital.

It gradually fell into a somewhat dilapidated state over the years, though was formerly used as a departure point for the now-defunct Copterline and Linda Line transport links to Helsinki.

The Linnahall was also used as a filming location last summer, for the forthcoming Hollywood thriller "Tenet", directed by Christopher Nolan.

Opera house plans scrapped

Discussions had also been held on potentially converting the site to include an opera theater, under the remit of the National Opera (Rahvusooper).

However, this idea has now been scrapped, Kõlvart said.

"The commission, which was to analyze the construction of an opera houseat the Lonnahall, analyzed different options, which were not very realistic. you can't give it up, "Kõlvart noted.

"Even the theoretical possibility that two concepts (an opera house and conference center together - ed.) could coexist is not viable. Our priority is the conference center, and we cannot give up on that, "Kõlvart noted.

Nonetheless, Kõlvart said, the future of the opera house is equally important for the City of Tallinn, which is also trying to make its own efforts to find a solution.

"The will continues to exist and as much as the city can suppor itt, we will support it, but not financially," said the mayor.

The culture ministry estimated last autumn that this project would cost €160-170 million.

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Editor: Andrew Whyte

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