Estiko wants to build six-story business instead of cinema

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The now-shuttered Ekraan cinema building in Tartu. Source: Joakim Klementi / ERR

The future of Tartu's Ekraan cinema, which has recently received a new owner, is still not clear, but the new owner's desire to change the management purpose of the plot in the city's general plan still gives hints. Estiko, who belongs to Neinar Sel, wants the opportunity to build a six-story commercial building instead of a cinema.

Until now, the general plan of the City of Tartu has intended the cinema's plot of land for public buildings, but now the new owner of the plot, Estiko Grupp, has proposed to allow the construction of a commercial building of up to six floors on the space.

Sven Saar, development manager of Estiko's real estate sector, told ERR that the current plan excludes almost all business activities.

"The previous cinema owner similarly closed down because people's habits, desires have not changed, both in terms of the cinema and entertainment in general. There is no point in developing it there," Saar said.

The city government agreed to the proposal.

Tartu Deputy Mayor Reno Laidre said that if the new general plan is approved in the autumn, it will be easier for the owner to prepare a new detailed plan for the plot.

"But I would like to draw attention to the fact that there are actually several protected buildings next to it and their impact must be assessed. It is not a quick and easy task to change the buildings" Laidre said.

Laidre said the Ekraan building cannot be considered to be of environmental value and thus it will not be protected by the local government. This means the future of the cinema depends on its recognition as a monument by the state.

Kersti Siim, the chief specialist of the National Heritage Board's protection management, said that the board is preparing an expert assessment of the building. According to the initial plan, it will be completed in September, after which the National Heritage Board will form a position.

Saar explained that Estiko does not yet have a definite plan for the plot. He did not rule out demolishing the building if heritage protection is not granted.

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Editor: Roberta Vaino

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