From Linnahall to Viru, new major urban space plan for Tallinn in the works

Plots of seaside land next to the Linnahall.
Plots of seaside land next to the Linnahall. Source: Siim Lõvi /ERR

Tallinn previously had a developer-implementation plan in place for the Tallinn City Hall (Tallinna Linnahall) and its surrounds. Nonetheless, the city's intentions have expanded, and a new design and commercial strategy for the area ranging from the Linnahall beachfront to Viru Square are now explored.

"We had hoped to have the initial concept for the Linnahall area ready by the beginning of the year," Tallinn Mayor Mihhail Kõlvart (Center) told ERR. "However, we decided during the development of the concept that the vision should be broader, that it should include not only the Linnahall but the entire area from the Old Town to the sea."

The mayor said that the redesigned area needs to be connected to both the Old Town and the Viru roundabout. However, the coastline will remain the focal point. "The vision is nearly complete, but the business plan is not, as a concept of this nature cannot be implemented without the private sector."

"Just as we had planned to involve a private partner in the reconstruction of the Linnahall, we are now seeking developers who are interested in contributing to the realization of this bigger concept," Kõlvart said.

"The city has land resources on the seafront, parcels of land, sections of land, which contribute to this concept, and we expect commercial project developers to take into account the city's overall vision," the mayor said.

The commercial offer, or precisely how to entice developers, is still being formulated, but the city is prepared to sell these sites along the coast. "But only if the developer implements the overarching concept in collaboration with the city. If this condition is acceptable, the remaining terms and conditions are negotiable, Kõlvart said.

Relevant properties are those to the right of the Linnahal, as viewed from the sea. "The size of these properties is quite substantial, and we hope that this will be sufficient motivation for a potential developer."

The city's main objective in redeveloping the area is to establish a new seaside urban space with increased quality public space and green areas. Kõlvart described it as "basically a different type of urban space, which is not found anywhere else in Tallinn."

"We tried to determine what was realistic and their potential level of interest. There should be a competition now, which we are considering. It is obvious to us that there are several interested parties," Kõlvart said.

The Linnahall building's future is uncertain

The Linnahall, according to Kõlvart, should be preserved first and foremost as a concept. "We want to build a modern concert hall and conference center. How to realize this using modern possibilities and technologies is one of the competition's themes," the mayor said.

"The value of this place is that the Linnahall is such a unique landmark, but it should also meet the expectations of the people of the city, and I believe that the concert hall is one of those things. It might also serve as a large international convention center, although the Linnahall's purpose could be far broader. The more features there are, the more commercial interest there will be," the mayor said.

The current Linnahall structure, which was built in the 1980s, is in a dire state, according to Kõlvart, and the issue of whether it should be saved at all has to be studied further. "We have received indications that preserving the valuable part that we see today will be extremely difficult."

Linnahall heritage assessment is rather broad, he went on to say. It was discussed most recently when the Estonia Opera House was considered in place of the Linnahall.

The mayor said that the possibility of an opera theater coming to Linnahall or the seaside area is unlikely at the moment. "Today, the issue is less pressing because the people of Estonia [Theater] have made it clear that they do not want to relocate from their current location."

"We support this idea," the mayor said, "but we cannot impose it on the Estonia Theater."

According to the municipality, the new maritime vision will be presented to the public later this year.


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Editor: Kristina Kersa

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