Tallinn ports front poised to brighten up

PHOTO: Repro

Should things go according to plan, Tallinn Old City Harbour, owned by Port of Tallinn, will within a decade turn into an attractive city district for tourist and townsfolk alike. This very year, initial construction work may commence in the area.

In October, as initiated by Port of Tallinn, a visionary workshop was called together, made up of real estate owners and developers, state and local government representatives, architects, city space designers, and transport administration experts. This was to awaken interest in developers who would be stirred to value seaside property and come up with solutions fitting with the vision of the port.

The goal was to map future visions and options of said Old City Harbour. The development of areas around the harbour is significantly impacted by the Northern Motorway Passage plan. Development of Old City Harbour with the said future-highway being included in the national transport development plan, EU funds can be applied for to merge city with port.

According to Port of Tallinn board member Allan Kiil, the first new landmark to be opened in Old City Harbour comes in May, as the new cruise berth gets completed.

With the new berth, Port of Tallinn will be able to receive, simultaneously, four cruise vessels over 300 metres long. Also, the new berth allows for the then vacating berths to be rebuilt to service ship lines.

«As the cruise shops keep getting bigger, and Eckerö and Viking Line have come up with new vessels, the port structures must comply,» explained Mr Kiil.

Two new accesses

The biggest work for the year is rebuilding of the North-West Seawall (Loodemuul) traffic solution, whereby traffic headed to A-Terminal will be redirected. By that, the current parking lot would become car-free zone for tourists and passengers. «The project designing has commenced, right now ship companies are looking at the draft plan,» confirmed Mr Kiil.

As planned, the port’s traffic flow to Mere Alley would, in addition to Sadama Street, also be passing through Rumbi Street, allowing for smoother exit from the port. This would be an initial step to tidy up the infrastructure, creating the conditions for systematic step-by-step construction on port area.

The port’s street network will also be improved at the other side, with Tuukri Street intersection and Petrooleumi Street breakthrough fully developed, enhancing truck traffic of the port.

The Northernmost part of the port, currently a wasteland closed for townsfolk, will – in the more distant future – probably be fitted with one of the most luxurious hotels of Estonia. Even so, the port will be trying to open the area up for the city this year already, before deciding about the construction.

Those acquainted with the port-life will know how tedious it is to walk around the Admiralty Pool (Admiraliteedi bassein) in order to get from Terminal A to D, or vice versa.

«Willing to make it easier for passengers, we will connect the terminals by a pedestrian gallery across the pool,» promised Mr Kiil, adding it was not quite clear yet what kind of a gallery it would be. The option of a shuttle between terminal buildings, travelling by wire, has also been considered.

Port of Tallinn desires the tram lines to reach all the way to the renewed Old City Harbour. «For the port, the street car is very important. The priority is for the port to develop a connection with airport, and bus and train stations,» noted Mr Kiil.

How serious is the talk on the Northern Passage? According to Tallinn city government, this is a connection-road for the port, not of topmost priority for the city.

«We do take it seriously,» assured Mr Kiil. «To decrease traffic loads passing through the city, this is a vital project. Our vision includes Northern Passage in vicinity to Old City Harbour.»

North-Western Seawall deeply desired

In all development, the port’s role is mainly to be a partner. «We are preparing architectural competitions, adding value to the land we are using. Depending on the project, we may build ourselves or do just the planning. Of vital necessity for us, right now, are the Rumbi and Petrooleumi Streets, which we are building ourselves,» explained Mr Kiil.

Development of the rest of the area is subjected to the overall vision, to be respected by any developer. «Interested parties visit us all the time,» admitted Mr Kiil. «The sweetest morsel is the vacant grass area next to North-Western Seawall, planned for multifunction development with hotel as main part. That’s a nice spot, valuable land; as owners, however, we want the right price.»

Around Old City Harbour, other developments are gradually changing the sea side. Recently, a new construction stage was launched in the Rotermann Quarter. Another important development is in pipeline for a lot lying between Admiralty Pool and Mere Alley. There, entrepreneur Hillar Teder is creating modern city space which, to the tune of Rotermann Quarter, will include both business and living space.

Regarding profitability and growth of port as a business, Mr Kiil hopes for the rising numbers of tourists from Russia, as well as the St Petersburg line. And the Finnish tourist. 

«In our mind, Finns might be interested in Tallinn in times to come as well; even so, at a certain point the interest will dim. Currently, so many come to buy alcohol, due to price gap. But that’s not the only reason for their choice – even for day-tourism, Tallinn is a highly attractive spot. Here, at the port, we are keeping the faith that, in a few years already, the attractive harbour area will enhance close to ten million tourists arriving in our capital,» enthused Mr Kiil.