The United States Embassy in Estonia is planning to move from its current location in Kentamanni Street in central Tallinn, to a site on the corner of Väike- and Suur-Ameerika, behind the so-called superministry. Speculation on if, when and where the embassy would move has been ongoing for several years.
Tallinn City Government has decided to transfer a property located at Suur-Ameerika 3/Väike-Ameerika 4 to the state, in connection with an international agreement. Minister of Economic Affairs Taavi Aas (Center) has confirmed that it will be given over to a foreign embassy.
Minister of Foreign Affairs Urmas Reinsalu (Isamaa) confirmed that the U.S. Embassy has expressed an interest in moving to the site and plans to do so, ERR's online news in Estonian reports.
"The government decided the transfer of the properties to the [state real estate firm] RKAS. This is quite a technical decision by its nature, but is actually very important because it addresses real estate questions concerning both the U.S. and Estonia's embassies, in Tallinn and Washington respectively," Reinsalu commented.
"The U.S. Embassy has been looking for an alternative location in Tallinn for years and now there's hope that we manage to find the solution between the countries step-by-step. The discussions about the embassy building on Suur-Ameerika street are in the works."
Estonia in turn will look for a permanent solution for plans to extend their embassy territory in the United States. Their current embassy is under renovation and Estonia is now after rooms which would be assigned as residence of the ambassador, allowing for receptions to be conducted in the U.S., making this deal a real estate trade between the two countries.
Rainer Saks, Chancellor of the Ministry of the Foreign Affairs, told ERR: "We are trying to acquire different rooms for residency. For us to acquire really good and fitting rooms, a lot of work has to be done, plans need to be made, markets researched. We have to make a decision where we have to consider that this might be made forever. We have not set a deadline, we are going for quality."
Saks said that the property located at Suur-Ameerika 3/Väike-Ameerika 4 will be handed over to the United States as they have looked for a suitable location for a new embassy building for years.
He added that construction at the property should be able to be completed without closing off the street, which is not possible at the embassy's current location on Kentmann tänav. That is still a question that will be answered in the detail plan of the building.
For the real estate deal to be finalized, the property behind the so-called superministry had to be appraised. Saks did not wish to name the exact cost of the property, but did say the appraisal has been completed.
Saks said: "It is not cheap. We are speaking of millions."
The Chancellor could not yet say what will happen to the current U.S. embassy building on Kentmann street after the move is completed.
Ed Dunn, public affairs officer at the U.S. Embassy in Estonia, told ERR: "We want to be good neighbors, for our design to be well received, and for the Embassy to be well-respected as an improvement of the new location. To achieve that, the architectural design phase is transparent and will comply with all local regulations, including any local process for architectural review."
He added that an evaluation team visited Tallinn in July 2019, and following review of available opportunities, identified the Suur-Ameerika site as the best viable location for the new Embassy.
Editor: Roberta Vaino