Cabinet to discuss fate of erstwhile Rocca al Mare president residence plan

Source: RKAS

The government is soon to decide on the future of a substantial Tallinn property which at one time was earmarked as a presidential residence, which would have replaced Kadriorg.

The status of the property, known as the Liberty manor complex in the Rocca al Mare district of western Tallinn, is up for review during impending state budget strategy talks, the Ministry of Finance told BNS.

Reports in February 2014 said that the state real estate authority, the RKAS, was negotiating with the Office of the President – the incumbent was Toomas Hendrik Ilves – to relocate to the Liberty manor site, near the Open Air Museum (Vabaõhumuuseum)

The compound would have included both the president's reception and residential premises, and would have permitted hosting foreign visitors – something which in the event Ilves has done both during and post-presidency at his Abja-Paluoja residence in southwestern Estonia.

While work was due to start in 2015, the project foundered the preceding fall, when a public tender for design work (see cover image) fell through. While the estimated procurement was pitched at €4.4 million, the RKAS signed a deal with another engineering firm for less than one twentieth of that amount.

The site was the summer estate of the prominent Koch family, and is one of the best preserved such properties, at least in Tallinn.

The property comprises seven complete buildings, some ruins, and covers close to 7 hectares (a little over 17 acres) of mostly forested land.

In December 2017 Jaak Aab (Center) , Minister of Public Administration, suggested the Open Air Musuem might become the new owners, while Ilves' successor, Kersti Kaljulaid, abandoned the plan for a presidential residence at the site in the same year, paying €354,000 compensation to the RKAS in the process.

The Open Air Museum put the redevelopment figure at around €2.8 million, BNS reports, while annual operating expenses are estimated at €13,000-16,000, about half of which consists of land tax, according to BNS.

As noted the matter will again be up for discussion at governmental level, having languished in the in-tray through the entirety of Jüri Ratas' tenure as prime minister.

The official presidential residence remains Kadriorg, which is site of official functions, though President Kersti Kaljulaid reportedly does not generally reside there.

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Editor: Andrew Whyte

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