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New Tartu cultural center to be completed by 2029

Planned location for the Tartu Südalinna Cultural Center (SÜKU).
Planned location for the Tartu Südalinna Cultural Center (SÜKU). Source: Siim Lõvi /ERR

The planned completion of the Tartu Südalinna Cultural Center (SÜKU), listed as a cultural object of national significance, will be postponed by two years, with the center estimated to open its doors in 2029.

While the Riigikogu approved the application for the center with the original completion date in 2027, the project is being aimed at 2029 as the initial phase has seen delays, Tartu Deputy Mayor Gea Kangilaski explained.

"All of these initial activities have been postponed. The Riigikogu decision also came later than anticipated etc. It will still take the same amount of time to make preparations, hold the architectural competition and execute the plans. That is why we need those two extra years," Kangilaski told ERR.

The city government also estimates that the project might end up costing €97.3 million instead of the planned €60 million, which Kangilaski explains through soaring construction prices. She emphasized, however, that these are just preliminary estimates.

"The cost and a realistic timeline will really become clear in the course of the construction tender in 2026," the deputy mayor admitted.

Margus Allikmaa, head of the Estonian Cultural Endowment, said that the organization receives around €10 million a year for cultural objects of national significance.

"SÜKU will only require €1-3 million in the coming years. As far as I am aware. Much of the money will be shelved, so to speak. There would be a slight surplus even if the construction of the Narva project [Kreenholm Culture Quarter] would be launched simultaneously," Allikmaa said.

The endowment cannot use that money elsewhere without a green light from the Riigikogu. Because inflation makes it insensible to have money sitting in accounts, Allikmaa believes the Riigikogu Cultural Affairs Committee should find alternative uses for the funds. On the other hand, once the construction of SÜKU starts in 2026, it would take longer to pay for.

"If originally, we could have constructed SÜKU using four years' receipt, it will be more by 2026. The period will be longer by then. This also means the next objects being postponed by as much," Allikmaa admitted.

He said that while he is not necessarily out to change the order in which nationally significant cultural objects are funded, the Riigikogu should review the timeline due to rapid price advance.

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Editor: Marcus Turovski

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