Plans to build a new national opera house on Kopli peninsula are being floated by an entrepreneur but the council of the Estonian national opera is skeptical as the location is a long way from the center of Tallinn.
Last week, Tallinn City Council initiated a detailed plan for the Meeruse Port (Meeruse sadam) area, where a residential quarter, commercial buildings and a marina for up to 200 vessels is planned.
Behind the development is the owner of Meerus and Bekker harbors, businessman Endel Siff who has a bigger vision for the area and is also planning an opera house and cruise terminal.
Currently, Bekker Port (Bekker sadam) is a cargo port but Siff has said the area will become a real estate development and the cargo ships will be replaced by cruise ships.
His most ambitious plan is to build a new privately financed opera house in the area. Siff said he has made a proposal to ministers and the Estonia council and feedback has been positive.
The Estonia council believes a new opera house is needed and if Siff's plans go ahead the state would not have to fund it. Siff said he is willing to invest himself, but has said it is too early to talk about what financing schemes and future ownership structures could be. "I believe that worthwhile projects will find funding," he said.
It would cost up to €300 million to build an opera house and incorporating a conference center would be possible. There is also room for parking. "But €200 to €300 million euros must be considered," he said.
Estonia: The city center is far away
The construction and location of a new opera house have been discussed for decades. Last year it was suggested it could be incorporated into a renovated Linnahall. Tallinn was against the idea as is planning to create a conference center in the venue but those plans are now on hold due to the coronavirus pandemic.
Last week, members of the Estonian council met with Siff and discussed the possible location of the opera house.
Acting Director General of the National Opera and Technical Director Taivo Pahmann told ERR the location Siff is suggesting is large but one downside is it is far from the city center.
"Such experiments have been done before. The Copenhagen Opera House is struggling as it is far from the center," Pahmann said.
On the positive side, Pahmann pointed out the proximity to the sea and the plan to build a cruise port and said Oslo's opera house on the sea front is very popular.
The National Opera does not currently have any better options, because there are no vacant plots of land in the city center which could be used to build a new concert hall.
The potential plans for Linnahall are no longer being discussed. Pahmann said that the list of cultural objects submitted to the state for funding includes an extension to the existing building as an option.
Meeruse district will be heated with seawater, use smart city tech
Siff's plans for the south-western part of the Kopli peninsula is to build the Meerus development - residential houses, office and commercial buildings and a marina.
It is also planned to extend the tram line to the area of Meeruse and Bekker harbors. A beach promenade will run along the shore.
He said this will be a big development for Tallinn, as Bekker Harbor will be added to the Meeruse area it will total 25 hectares. "If we add more real estate next door, where development is also being considered, then this territory exceeds the territory of the Old Town," Siff said.
The quarter is planned to be built using smart city technology and to work with researchers to develop a solution for heating the entire district with seawater. It is also planned to include opportunities for teleworking.
"The coronavirus pandemic confirmed and perpetuated the trend of teleworking. It is here to stay. We are also taking this into account in the Meerus development process. It means ultra-fast internet, office space, community space where teleworking can take place. In addition to sports, trade and other opportunities. We are working to create an environment and living conditions where there is no need to visit the city center on a daily basis," said Siff.
The planned area is located in the south-western part of the Kopli peninsula in northern Tallinn in the area of Meeruse Port and borders Klaasi and Meeruse streets and the Bekker cargo port in the northwest.
Tallinn City Council approved the initiation of the detailed plan on Thursday last week. The compiler of the plan is K-Projekt AS.
Editor: Helen Wright