The since-abandoned plan to turn the Liberty Manor complex in the Rocca al Mare subdistrict of Tallinn's Haabersti district into a presidential residence cost the state budget at least €354,000.
The Office of the President compensated from its 2018 budget contractual obligations in the amount of €354,000 to Estonian state-owned real estate company Riigi Kinnisvara AS (RKAS) arising from the cancellation of the construction of the Liberty residence for the President of the Republic, presidential spokesperson Mailin Aasmäe told BNS on Monday.
"The sum originating from the cooperation agreement mentioned came first and foremost from the drawing up of the construction project and preparation of documents for the construction tender as well as some services concerning the design," RKAS spokesperson Mariliis Sepper told BNS on Tuesday.
According to Ms Sepper, the annual expenses for Liberty Manor run between €13,000-16,000, approximately half of which consists of land tax and the other half of security and maintenance expenses, which include cleaning and seasonal maintenance as well as technical maintenance. The latter in turn includes the maintenance and repair of security systems. "This concerns expenses that we bear for the maintenance of our assets," she added.
Questions over manor's fate date back to 2014
It emerged in February 2014 that RKAS had launched negotiations with the Office of the President regarding the relocation of the presidential residence to Liberty Manor, which is located near the Estonian Open Air Museum. The complex would have included the president's reception and residential premises, but also allowed for the hosting of foreign visitors. Construction was scheduled to begin in autumn 2015.
The plan began lagging in autumn 2014 already, however, when the public procurement for the design of the complex failed for the first time. At the end of 2014, RKAS signed a €206,250 agreement with architectural and engineering firm Novarc Group OÜ, the winner of the second tender, for residence's design and design supervision services.
The first construction tender also failed because no company was willing to submit an offer within the €4.4 million estimated cost of the tender agreement.
Due to the delay, the Office of the President was unable to reach a decision regarding the establishment of the complex during the term of office of former President Toomas Hendrik Ilves, due to which the decision reached the desk of President Kersti Kaljulaid, who assumed office in October 2016.
In February 2017, the Office of the President decided to abandon the plan. That December, then-Minister of Public Administration Jaak Aab gave hope to the Open Air Museum that the latter may be given possession of the Liberty Manor building. The museum, which used the Liberty estate prior to 2014, said that the renovation of the manor would cost €2.8 million, which it hoped to receive from the state.
"The future of Liberty is still undecided; several different scenarios have been analyed," Ms Sepper told BNS. "It is very likely that Liberty Manor will remain [in the state's ownership] and will not be sold."
The Koch family's Liberty summer estate is the best preserved summer manor in Tallinn. The 68,806sq m property currently includes seven buildings as well as the foundations of the Old Liberty building.
Editor: Aili Vahtla