Tallinn, Lauder to Renovate Linnahall Convention Center

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Tallinn's Linnahall: eyesore or architectural treasure? Either way, it's being remodeled. Source: Photo: Postimees/Scanpix

"Commies love concrete," wrote P.J. O'Rourke, "they just don't know the recipe." Tallinn's eroding Linnahall convention center has for years served to epitomize the American writer's remark, but today the city of Tallinn gave the go-ahead for the hall's renovation.

According to the agreement, the Linnahall will be leased by Tallinn Entertainment LLC, founded by Ronald S. Lauder, CEO of cosmetics giant Estee Lauder.

Under the agreement, the sports and entertainment venue will be developed by a joint venture in which the city of Tallinn and Tallinn Entertainment each hold 50 percent, Eesti Päevaleht reported.

The American company will advance an undisclosed amount of credit, and in return the city will remain silent in the management until the debt is paid. Beginning the 16th year of the 99-year lease, the city will receive rent of $800,000 (€615,000) per year.

A mammoth concrete slab structure overlooking Tallinn’s waterfront, the Linnahall was built in 1980, part of a spate of new construction timed to coincide with the Moscow Olympics. It enjoys protection under heritage conservation laws.

Under the reported terms of the agreement, a hotel and casino will be added to the Linnahall grounds.

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