Reconstruction of the Narva Alexander's Cathedral will be postponed indefinitely as the project proves twice as expensive as estimated. Only enough money for emergency repairs next year.
The Rescue Board deemed the cathedral's domed hall structurally dangerous and unfit for services or concerts four years ago.
A project to renovate the state-owned cathedral prescribes turning it into a church-concert hall. In addition to necessary repairs, the plan is to equip the building with modern technical systems, construct subterranean ancillary premises, a new main entrance for the audience and fix up the surrounding area. While construction was set to be launched next year, after design work was finished, it turned out the renovation would cost twice what was initially estimated.
"The sum required to realize the main project is at least €9 million, which money just does not exist in the state budget today. The government allocated no additional funds for real estate projects, meaning that our four-year plan does not include additional funds for the church in Narva," said Piret Lilleväli, Ministry of Internal Affairs' undersecretary in charge of assets.
Because the ministry has funds left over from the design phase, the money will be used to carry out emergency repairs at the cathedral next year.
"We have €300,000 left and can use it to preserve the building to prevent accidents and further decay," she said.
The deputy secretary general added that because the city is looking to construct a parking lot next to the cathedral, the government will try to move certain underground communications during that time to avoid having to dig again in the future.
Urmas Karileet, caretaker-pastor of the Narva Maarja Congregation, hopes the full restoration of the cathedral will fit in the 2024 state budget. The emergency repairs will save the building from an inglorious end and there will be some church activity next year.
"We will work with the contractor to make sure visitors could still access the tower and the museum it houses, with sermons held on the second floor of the tower hall," Karileet said.
The Estonian government and the Estonian Evangelical Lutheran Church (EELK) bought the Narva Alexander's Cathedral from a bankruptcy estate six years ago. The most problematic part of the building is its domed hall that sports excellent acoustics but is in danger of collapsing. The renovation should turn it into a 500-seat concert venue where sermons can also be held.
Editor: Mirjam Mäekivi, Marcus Turovski