Citycon, the owner of the Kristiine Keskus, has acquired a neighboring property and office space and apartments will be built on top of the current car park.
Kristjan Maaroos, the head of the center, said that the company's goal is to develop its shopping centers into multifunctional city centers which include offices and residential real estate in addition to trade.
"We see that part of Kristiine's plot is undervalued due to its location as a parking lot, a more representative function should be found. In cooperation with KAMP Architects, a vision has been born which includes office buildings and apartment buildings. But preliminarily, we wish to create a great city environment."
Maaroos admitted that planning is complicated by the fact that a proper and convenient car park is actually a source of life for the shopping center, but in downtown shopping centers, the issue of parking is usually solved by building a multi-storey car park. He hopes the design and construction will take a total of three to five years.
Guido Pärnits, head of Ülemiste Keskus, said that the expansion of Kristiine Keskus with the construction of office and apartment premises is logical. If a developer operating in Estonia has sufficient resources, they will expand their center, not by adding trade, but by adding other functions, such as service and entertainment.
"If someone is expanding their center purely for trade, especially here in Estonia, then they don't understand things or are a little behind time," Pärnits said.
Pärnits: T1 should be demolished
Pärnits does not believe that reducing the share of retail space in the new large centers would allow the T1 shopping center to be brought to life again.
"Let's say it would be best to demolish the center. The location is good for new construction. At the moment, concrete buildings are being sold there, it is difficult to convert commercial premises into apartments and offices. Especially if a lot of new special office buildings are being built in the area."
Pärnits said that the railway side of T1 should not have been allowed to be built in a way that there is essentially an ugly parking lot.
"Things should be done beautifully, especially since this location is still very strategically important in Tallinn because there is a Rail Baltic terminal. In essence, it is the city center."
The T1 property is currently for sale for €85 million euros. Pärnits said that it is too expensive and the price will definitely fall. If the price falls to its logical place, the owners of Ülemiste would also be interested in the plot, then demolish the current building and build apartments or office space instead. He said the retail space in Tallinn is divided between Ülemiste, Kristiine and Rocca al Mare centers. And in the future, Porto Franco will be added.
Maaroos said that the future of Porto Franco is currently unclear and it is probably questionable how much trade there will be. "Rather, office space still predominates there," Maaroos said.
Too many grocery stores
Pärnits was critical of the new smaller shops being built in the suburbs. In his opinion, these stores do not take visitors to large centers because visitors come to large centers for other purposes.
"For example, during COVID, the Ülemiste center was essentially closed, a large grocery store was practically the only one, but I think that their turnover dropped several times more than in nearby stores. In my opinion, what is happening to grocery stores in Tallinn is a bit absurd. It's not rational that there are so many of them," Pärnits said.
Editor: Roberta Vaino