No new housing has been built in Narva since Estonia regained its independence, due mainly to uncertainty over whether residents of the border town would be able to afford expensive apartments. Now however, plans are in place to build an entire residential quarter along the Narva River, with construction work on the first apartment building already having started this Wednesday.
Construction company Rand and Tuulberg started work on developing the city's Joaoru area five years ago.
The construction permit for the first apartment block was granted last March. However, in light of Russia's full-scale invasion of Ukraine, banks considered it too risky to finance the development in the border region. In the end, the developer opted to build using its own money.
"Now, the construction market is stable and it seems to be the right time to build. The other thing is, how long are we going to wait? Someone has to start. If the [average] price per square meter in Narva is €500 and our price is between €3,000 and €4,000, then this is a bit of an anomaly. But we believe we can do it," Rand & Tuulberg co-owner Aivar Tuulberg said.
At the moment, the supply of apartments in the border town exceeds the demand. However, with no new houses having been built for such a long time, there is often a tradeoff between price and quality.
"People are always making a choice between quality and price, and in fact, if they understand that for a higher price they can find a higher quality place to live, then why not?" said Sergei Gorlatš, a member of real estate company Trianon Grupp's management board.
The companies building new factories in Narva are particularly interested in new apartment buildings.
"If we are talking about top professionals, we have to offer them the same living conditions here as they have now in Germany or in Finland. Every time a person comes from another region, they ask, where am I going to live? At least now, if all goes well here, that worry will be off our shoulders," said NPM Silmet board member Raivo Vasnu.
A total of five apartment buildings are set to be built on top of Narva's Joaoru slope. The construction of the first 45-apartment building will cost €7 million and is expected to be completed in the first half of 2025.
Editor: Michael Cole