“There has never been a building like this in Estonia”

The construction of a central hospital in Tallinn’s Lasnamäe district would be an ambitious endeavor to say the least, one that has no equivalent in Estonian history. The planned area of the hospital is 127,000 m2 and the hospital complex will cost €520 million. For comparison: The Estonian National Museum is a large building in Tartu, yet it is still five times smaller and seven times cheaper than the hospital. Tartu’s Lõunakeskus shopping mall is 1.5 times smaller, reports ERR.

“There has never been a building like this in Estonia. It will be a major-major challenge. Not just for construction, but for the preparation and management of the development. It is hard to compare with anything today’s conditions,” said Nordecon board chair Gerd Müller.

The board chair of Merko Ehitus, Ivo Volkov, said: “The building will undoubtedly be a landmark for Estonia and Tallinn.”

Tallinn will have to work fast for the hospital, however, as the European Commission has still not made a decision on the project. If the decision were to come out a positive one, the EU’s COVID-19 recovery fund would have to be put to use by 2027. If the funds are not realized by then, Estonia will have to pay the money back. This puts the entire sector under major pressure as it is expected to operate at a very fast pace.

“The timeframes are very-very ambitious. Even organizing the design contest in two months in this capacity and projecting it in two years is a very-very great challenge. No building in Estonia is built at that pace,” Nordecon chair Gerd Müller said. “These large things do not tend to delay, as we can see from Rail Baltic.”

Swedbank analyst Tõnu Mertsina told ERR that the construction must be viewed from a broader perspective. “Multiple major construction objects fall around that same time: Tallinn Hospital, Rail Baltic, four-lane highways, and if there were to be any residential buildings. It is hard to estimate how much one object might eat away at the other, meaning that if Tallinn Hospital is developed, how much it will affect residential developments, it certainly will. The same with Rail Baltic versus highways,” Mertsina said.

He notes that the construction sector might indeed overheat, which would make it sensible to spread some major projects over time and to develop some during a difficult economic phase.

Mayor of Tallinn Mihhail Kõlvart said it is still early to say what will come of the hospital and policlinic buildings. He considers it important to maintain healthcare centers as primary medical service providers in all city districts.

“We are currently going off the city having a good financial position, we can take out a loan and our debt burden currently allows it. Our rating gives us an option to receive the loan at good conditions,” the mayor said.

Kõlvart noted that the timeframe provided by the European Commission is tight, which is why a procurement for the initial design was announced before a positive decision is made. Kõlvart promises that if the project is green-lit, the city will follow due dates and the building will exist by 2027.

Photo credit ERR