The construction of three new apartment buildings in the immediate vicinity of the Estonian National Museum (ERM) on the outskirts of Tartu has been halted by developer. Representatives of Tartu Municipality, the state and the developer will meet in the near future in an effort to find a solution for the site, which may involve a land swap that had previously stalled.
"At the moment, time is running out, and the developer, Reterra Estate, which is also interested in coming to the table to find a solution, has suspended its construction work," said Kertu Saks, director of the ERM.
Last week, ETV news show "Aktuaalne Kaamera" reported that. as representatives of Tartu Municipality and the Ministry of the Environment had been unable to reach an agreement for a land swap involving the site, which is in the immediate vicinity of the ERM, construction work had already begun. However, there are now hopes that negotiations may lead to the developer being offered a suitable plot of land to replace the one it currently owns.
"At the initiative of the Ministry of Culture, officials from the Ministry of Environment, Tartu Municipality as well as representatives of the developer will meet in the near future," explained Saks. "We hope to find a way to exchange these plots and stop construction from taking place so close to the ERM. At the moment, there is still a chance for the mistake to be rectified," Saks added.
According to Saks, it would be best for the ERM if a solution were found sooner, rather than later. "Of course, the sooner the better," said Saks. "Twice already we have been very close to reaching an agreement. Now we also have a new and energetic government, (so) let's hope they have the will to reach an agreement during the short time they are in power," Saks said.
However, representatives of the ERM will not attend the upcoming meeting. "We have attended meetings in the past, and we have called for (the upcoming) meeting, but as we have nothing (more) to give to the municipality or the Ministry of the Environment, we do not see the need to attend this time," said Saks.
Jarno Laur, mayor of Tartu Municipality, confirmed on Tuesday that the municipality is interested in finding a solution, but declined to tell ERR who or what was behind the stalled land swap process. "At the moment, it is too early to talk about a solution to the situation," Laur said.
Minister of the Environment Madis Kallas (SDE) visited the site with Laur on Friday, with the two sides in agreement on the need to find a solution that suits all parties. "This is also the common goal for all the ministries involved. If necessary, we would be ready to propose possible solutions to the government," Kallas said.
Margit Martinson, vice chancellor of the environment ministry, said that it was first necessary to assess the position of the property developers. "First of all, we need to clarify the current position and terms of the property owners, as the municipality has already issued them with a construction permit," said Martinson. "This will lay the ground for possible solutions. We will try to propose a potential solution to the municipality and then wait for their input. So, we are negotiating and remain hopeful that we can reach an agreement."
Last week, Laur told "Aktuaalne Kaamera," that the municipality did not have any land, which would be suitable economically to offer the development company in exchange for its current plot. "Because of this, we have offered the state an additional plot of land for general use. If it's not suitable, it's not suitable," Laur commented at the time.
The Ministry of Culture told "Aktuaalne Kaamera" that the previous solution proposed by the municipality was neither realistic nor feasible for the state. Negotiations on the land swap have been going on for almost a year.
Editor: Michael Cole