Taking ownership of old buildings hardest part of demolishing them

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Empty apartment building in Martna. Source: Juhan Hepner/ERR

Empty Soviet apartment buildings are an eyesore in many parts of Estonia. Lääne-Nigula Municipality in Lääne County has demolished four abandoned apartment buildings over the past five years and started work on demolishing two more this week. Past experience suggests that taking ownership of objects is the most difficult part of the process of getting rid of apartment buildings.

Lääne-Nigula Municipality Mayor Mikk Lõhmus said that demolition support from KredEx of around €40,000 requires cost-sharing of 10 percent from the municipality.

Demolition work has begun on two empty apartment buildings in the Martna rural municipality district. One used to belong to the state and the other was bought from previous owners for a reasonable price.

Over the past five years, four apartment buildings have been demolished in Lääne-Nigula, whereas taking ownership of buildings proved quite difficult in some cases.

"Owners are either abroad or buildings owned by companies that have undergone compulsory dissolution. It is also possible that individual apartment have different owners who live in Tallinn and are under the impression that the dilapidated building is very valuable. It took us around two years to secure an old apartment building in Taebla as we had our lawyers look for owners in Finland," Lõhmus said.

At most, the municipality has paid a few thousand euros to acquire buildings to be demolished as previous owners cannot afford or aren't interested in tearing them down.

People's idea of how much such a building costs can be astronomical at times.

"We have been forced to conduct lengthy negotiations. The initial price for a cluster of apartment buildings in Taebla was almost €100,000, while we eventually settled on a much more reasonable price," Lõhmus said.

The Taebla apartment buildings in question were demolished in 2016. Lõhmus said that the municipality is looking to tear down another building in Martna and a half-finished one in Rõude.

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Editor: Marcus Turovski

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