Construction of the planned Downtown Cultural Center (SÜKU) has reached an important stage, said Tartu Mayor Urmas Klaas (Reform), as the Tartu city government sought the support of Tartu City Council this week for financing conditions negotiated with the Cultural Endowment of Estonia as well as the initiation of the center's detailed plan.
"Thorough preliminary work has been carried out, including numerous studies, to ensure that the construction of SÜKU has been considered from all angles," Klaas said according to a press release. "We are now seeking the support of the council for the financing conditions negotiated with the Cultural Endowment of Estonia and the initiation of the detailed plan."
The drafts submitted to the city council by the city government seek permission to enter into a contract with the Cultural Endowment in order to obtain financial support for SÜKU's construction as well as to launch the drawing up of a strategic environmental assessment as well as a detailed plan for the property located at Vanemuise 1.
The detailed plan process will also involve an international architectural competition, slated to be announced early next year.
An agreement was reached in the course of negotiations that the Cultural Endowment will finance 67 percent and the City of Tartu 33 percent of the cost of SÜKU's construction. Construction of the new cultural center is projected to cost €73.7 million excluding VAT — or €88.4 million including VAT — and estimated costs will be adjusted according to the construction price index (CPI) prior to the conclusion of SÜKU's construction contract in the second half of 2026.
With a separate decision, the city government is also seeking Tartu City Council's support in initiating the preparation of a detailed plan for the property at Vanemuise 1 and the surrounding area.
According to the city, the detailed plan aims to transform the area into a high-quality public space, build a new cultural center on the site, reconstruct the surrounding Vabaduse puiestee, Uueturu tänav, Poe tänav and Küüni tänav as well as find a comprehensive solution including the green area along the right bank of the Emajõgi River.
In conjunction with the detailed plan, the city government also wants to initiate a strategic environmental assessment in order to identify the possible environmental impacts of these plans and develop measures to mitigate these impacts and leave as small a footprint as possible.
Plans must take into account that at least half of the existing park at the site must be preserved as a green area, and that consideration must be given to preserving valuable trees in the area, solutions for replacement planting as well as ensuring cohesion between elements of the city's green network, i.e. Toome Hill, the Emajõgi River and its riverbanks.
SÜKU is slated to house Tartu City Library, Tartu Art Museum, an event center, an art house movie theater, the Tartu studio of Estonian Public Broadcasting (ERR), dining options as well as various other rooms suited to the function of the new center.
According to the city, SÜKU is intended to be a place where people can spend time without having to pay to be there.
Editor: Aili Vahtla