Locals hope Americans cooperate in new embassy building development

The United States Embassy to Estonia is planning to build a significantly larger building for its offices than initially planned. Although the process of developing the new embassy between the streets of Väike-Ameerika and Suur-Ameerika is still in its early stages, both locals and Americans hope for cooperation.

The United States Embassy in Estonia's building on Kentmanni tänav has been far too small for the major nation's plans for years now and an agreement was reached more than a year ago about where a new building could be situated.

A new embassy building is set to be developed on the plot between the streets of Väike-Ameerika and Suur-Ameerika, right behind the "Super-ministry" building. The territory had previously housed basketball and beach volleyball courts.

On Monday, ERR reported that documentation sent to the city government shows that the development is set to be larger than initially planned. It will host leisure and ancillary buildings as well as a detachment of U.S. Marines tasked with security duties, in addition to the embassy building itself.

"The initial proposal has presented a desire to develop eight buildings on the property. They have a main building, which is situated in the middle of the plot," Tallinn city planning department manager Ivari Rannama said. In addition to the nine-story main building, seven other two-story buildings are planned.

U.S. Embassy public affairs officer Mark Naylor told ETV's daily affairs show "Aktuaalne kaamera" on Monday that they hope to involve local residents in the detail plan process. "This is a process where we will go back and forth with the city and the neighborhood to try and figure out the final design and the plans for the compound. We really want to be a good neighbor, we want our embassy compound to be well received and we want to make sure that we are fully cooperative throughout this process," Naylor said.

Jonatan Heinap, board member of the local Uue Maailma Union, said the local residents appreciate greenery. "The ideal design for a New World resident would have certainly seen a public park on the property," he said, adding that the union will certainly make its voice heard during the process.

"We want to take a positive message to them and say that there are people here that appreciate leisure spaces. Americans are also people. I do not think it is impossible to create this with them," Heinap said.

The project is now awaiting city government approval, which is likely to happen in January. It is unknown when the development could be completed.

The total surface area will be 5,550 sq. m., rising to 8,000 sq. m. when underground facilities are factored in, ERR reports, compared with the Kentmanni street property's 1,200-sq. m. area.

Since the resignation of James D. Melville in summer 2018 – Melville cited irreconcilable differences with the Trump administration – Estonia has not had full U.S. representation in-country. William Ellison Grayson, appointed by Donald Trump, never arrived in Estonia, while current incumbent Joe Biden has yet to appoint ambassadors to several countries, including Estonia, since taking office in January. 

Artist's representation of the planned US embassy (white building) development on Suur-Ameerika 3/4. Source: Mark Cavagnero Associates / ESPLAN


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Editor: Kristjan Kallaste

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