According to Ain Hanschmidt, CEO of shipper Tallink's parent company AS Infortar, the 5,000-seat hall at Tallinn's Linnahall isn't too big, and will allow for more international events to take place in Estonia. Tallink will also be able to bring future clientele straight to the complex via the port being expanded directly behind it, he explained on ETV news broadcast "Aktuaalne kaamera" on Wednesday night.
AK anchor Priit Kuusk: This is a very big project, and if we take Tallink into account, then the ambition to build a port is entirely natural and understandable, but don't you think that there is sufficient retail space, perhaps even too much, in Tallinn already?
Ain Hanschmidt: When we were made this offer, then we considered how we would be capable of bringing Linnahall alive and getting these retail spaces to work. And they will work when they receive some kind of additional synergy, and this additional synergy is if we can expand the port at Linnahall, which currently exists, and build it large enough that we can bring Tallink ships there. As a result, I believe, looking forward, that we would be capable of bringing 8-10 million people to the Linnahall area. We'll bring clients there ourselves.
When doing business, the [question] is how to get more people to come there. I believe that a port is our means of developing conference tourism internationally, [organizing] concerts, etc.
PK: The current 5,000-seat conference center at Linnahall seems quite big. Will it be filled?
AH: Seems fantastic, doesn't it? People actually talk all the time about how we can't organize conferences or major events in Estonia because we don't have a big enough conference hall. If we now restore this unique hall — it is a fantastic amphitheater in that sense, as it fits 5,000 people and the last row is 24 meters away [from the stage] — then actually this is architecturally a very good solution. It just needs to be restored and taken into use.
PK: What will become of the ice arena half?
AH: I think we will develop that side. It will house other business services, all kinds of services, to serve the stream of people that will start going through there.
PK: So there are no plans to demolish anything? Or is it too soon to discuss this yet?
AH: It's too soon to discuss that, because if we move forward with this project, then we will still be announcing an architectural competition. We hope that some brilliant architects will figure out some kind of exciting solutions for how to make it more attractive.
What we signed [on Wednesday] was a letter of intent: what the goals are that we would like to achieve. Now the real work begins. We are actually only just now starting to take the first steps.
PK: Regarding city traffic, you have already made some initial calculations. What's going on with the construction of a tunnel, will traffic be entirely halted in the area or not?
AH: No, I don't believe it will be halted. Yes, as traffic management is one of the most important things — Põhjaväil and Reidi Road have now been completed, thanks to which we will now be capable of providing a good traffic solution. As traffic management was the most important issue, when we received an offer from the city government late last year, we actually conducted preliminary studies regarding how to solve the traffic issue here, and these preliminary studies indicate that traffic will actually be improved here, but of course we will have to build a tunnel.
PK: When will this neighborhood — this new urban space — be complete?
AH: If there are no regulatory risks, if all authorities cooperate with us and we receive all the [necessary] permits within a year or two — construction permits — then I believe that we are capable of implementing this project within five to six years.
Editor: Aili Vahtla