Real estate businessman: I hope they tear down Linnahall

Urmas Sõõrumaa.
Urmas Sõõrumaa. Source: Priit Mürk/ERR

Estonian real estate businessman Urmas Sõõrumaa has promised to continue development activities on the plots he owns in Central Tallinn and confirmed that he is not interested in getting involved in the construction of the capital city's waterfront Porto Franco development or the renovation of Linnahall. He expressed hope that the latter won't be renovated, but rather torn down.

"I hope it doesn't actually happen — you can organize as many of all kinds of procurements as you want," Sõõrumaa said in response to the suggestion that the City of Tallinn should announce a new procurement for the overhaul of Linnahall, a concrete Soviet-era Brutalist complex likewise located on the waterfront, in exchange for municipally-owned properties adjacent to it.

"I hope it gets torn down and that one can walk, eyes closed, along a path from Mere puiestee to the sea without having to cross five intersections and still ending up God knows where," he continued. "You end up somewhere behind Linnahall, where you can get beaten up today as well as beaten up behind the future renovated Linnahall. That is not a normal place people go."

He believes that Linnahall should be replaced with something airy.

"Look outside right now — do you want to just sit out on the street?" he asked. "Look at the seafront developments in Scandinavia — in Oslo, in Copenhagen — they're all airy, with large glass surfaces and interesting promenades. There are no piles of concrete. I hope common sense prevails."

The Estonian real estate mogul also criticized the timing of the new competition, should it be announced — ahead of the 2023 Riigikogu elections next March and in the middle of crisis times.

"I've seen plenty of these competitions," he said. "I don't want to be a fortuneteller, but I hope that several hundreds of millions of the people's money going into this pile of concrete that is located all wrong, that closes off our only potential direct promenade from Mere puiestee to the sea [never happens]. We're talking about opening up the sea to Tallinn, but then we could forget it for the next five generations."

Asked if he would participate in the waterfront Porto Franco real estate project being developed by Hillar and Rauno Teder along Admiralty Basin, Sõõrumaa said that he hasn't received an invitation to, and even if he did, he would say no.

Urmas Sõõrumaa. Source: Priit Mürk/ERR

"I have enough to do around that area myself, and I don't really want much more than that," he said, and brought up the 50,000 square meter property at Ahtri 3 adjacent to Hotel Europa as well as the entire Rotermann Quarter being built by his company. "I have quite enough."

He said he wasn't aware of the details of the problems the Porto Franco project is facing, but said he hopes that they manage to get the loans they need, "as every functional thing supports others adjacent to it as well — including my properties and Rotermann Quarter as a whole."

Sõõrumaa noted that he is continuing construction on the Golden Gate building on Ahtri tänav as well.

Asked about his recent acquisition of Foorum, a nearby shopping center located at the intersection of Narva maantee and Hobujaama tänav, the real estate developer explained that he intends to make spending time in that building "more beautiful and enjoyable."

"We're also aware of the City of Tallinn's plans, according to which construction of the [Old City Harbor] tramway will begin next spring, and once that's finished, they'll be talking about [building] a pedestrian street," Sõõrumaa said.

"In real estate you have to look at things 10-20 years ahead," he explained. "And in the 10-20 year perspective, that will in any case be the sweetest spot in Tallinn of all, in terms of trends. It's a very sweet location — beautiful view, where the sun is shining most of the time and you see all beautiful things from the windows."


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Editor: Aili Vahtla

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