Plans in motion to revamp Hare Island

Within a month, public consultations are to start over building a business center on Zaķusala (Hare Island) beside the Latvian Television building, with an estimated €65m to be attracted from investors. The city of Riga meanwhile hopes to use the island to build a fun park complete with a Ferris wheel, reports Latvian Radio.

The idea for building a business building on Zaķusala took root in 2008 during the economic downturn. Back then, the state rented a swath of land to a company on a 50-year lease. 

It is expected that the Riga City Council will this week call a meeting to announce public consultations over the planned building.

The Biznesa Centrs Zaķusala company has a lease for 25 hectares of public land and plans to use a 1980 design that would erect a twin building beside the current LTV high rise. 

"In the area just beside the television building, entrepreneurs are planning to implement a 1980 project by Andris Purviņš, originally designed for the television and radio complex," said Riga City Council representative Ilze Purmale.

The business center would take up around eight hectares of land with a structure that would house conference halls, accommodation, sports zones, restaurants, a yacht club and a parking lot.

The Riga City Council meanwhile wants to build a fun park on the rest of the island going from the television building to the railway bridge.

"I think it's the best place for a fun park, especially considering a Ferris wheel. When we had been approached with an offer [about a Ferris wheel], it was unclear where we could place it in the long term .. this could be the best place to put it," said Purmale.

Although it's just a plan at this stage, the Rail Baltica project could help the initiative as it would see a new railroad bridge being built over Daugava River together with cycling paths and a walking bridge providing an alternative path to reach Zaķusala from Central Riga. 

The business complex project has been lagging behind as land ownership on the island is very fragmented, said Board member at Biznesa Centrs Zaķusala, Vitālijs Gavrilovs. 

Gavrilovs says that, if greenlighted by the Riga City Council, the search for investors may start within a couple months' time. According to his plans the business complex may offer housing Latvian Radio as per the original plan. 

"The second building was meant for Latvian Radio. We know, too, that Latvian Television has it very difficult in the old building," he said. 

While the original project costs were estimated at €140m, now it's down to €65m and €100m if the previously sidelined plans for an acoustic concert hall are revived.

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