Estonian government to put Patarei building up for auction

The Patarei Sea Fortress-Prison complex.
The Patarei Sea Fortress-Prison complex. Source: Postimees/Scanpix

The Estonian government decided at its Thursday Cabinet meeting to put the Patarei Sea Fortress-Prison building up for auction under the condition that the buyer has to renovate the structure over the next six years as well as build a seaside promenade along the complex.

Estonian state real estate management company Riigi Kinnisvara AS (RKAS) has set out the conditions for the sale of the Patarei properties whereby the protection of public interest in the privatization and development of the complex of buildings will be ensured. In accordance with the endorsed detailed plan, the functions of the buildings are residential, public and commercial, which guarantees that the area will be in use round the clock, the Ministry of Finance said.

RKAS has actively worked to develop a complete solution that would support the area. In cooperation with the City of Tallinn, the issue concerning an access road was solved and Kalaranna Street was built.

According to Minister of Public Administration Jaak Aab (Center), the renovation of the complex is projected to cost some €70-80 million. He said that the precise functions of the property in the future are to be determined in the course of the development.

"Regardless of whether it is a museum, hotel or a restaurant — all of them will support the rebirth of the area," the minister said. "One of our fundamental principles is that there will be no barrier fences. We will fix up the area and open it to residents of the city."

According to Aab, the Patarei complex is one of Estonia's most impressive pieces of construction and historical heritage, and discussions over finding a thematic use for it have been ongoing for nearly two decades. "Various museums have also submitted their proposals," he said. "The government decided that one wing will house a museum of the crimes of communism, and has tasked the Ministry of Justice with concluding a rental agreement with RKAS."

The Estonian War Museum and several others have likewise displayed interest in the complex. "No idea is conclusively off the table," the minister said. "Negotations must be continued, and in the future, other museums could likewise definitely find a space in Patarei."

Patarei Sea Fortress-Prison, which was completed in 1840, was built on the order of Russian Emperor Nicholas I. Originally intended for use as a sea fortress, the complex was used as a barracks until the collapse of the Russian Empire. From 1920 until 2002, it was used as a prison by various regimes, and the main part of the complex was declared a cultural monument of the Republic of Estonia in May 1997.

The complex, whose ultimate future remains under debate, was closed to the public in October 2016. 

Editor: Aili Vahtla

Source: BNS

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