New owner snaps up abandoned resort

The Ķemeri Sanatorium complex, once one of Latvia’s prime recreational and spa destinations, but troubled by investor neglect since the restoration of independence, was sold on auction Friday to an undisclosed buyer, reported information agency LETA.

Insolvency administrator Ainars Kreics, in charge of the assets formerly owned by now defunct firm “Ominasis Latvia”, told LETA that the winning bid came from a registered Latvian company. However he declined to reveal its identity until the already received down payment of €503,000 is followed by the transfer of the remaining €2.5m sum within one month’s time.

Unofficial sources at LETA’s disposal indicate the possibility that the buyer could be a recently registered firm called “Park Hotel Kemeri”, owned solely by Russian citizen Alexander Gusakov.

While the €3m sole winning bid seems tiny compared with today’s news regarding the €107m sale of insolvent steel forge Liepajas metalurgs, in fact the all-but-abandoned Ķemeri Sanatorium has also been a long-standing headache for both the local and state governments in Jurmala and Riga. The sale brings more good tidings in the wake of the news from Liepaja.

In fact, this is the fourth attempt to auction off the deteriorating property, previous ones failing without registering a single bid. Jurmala local government officials floated an offer to buy the complex and guide its further development, however failed to secure a loan from the State Treasury to make it happen.

All the way back in 1998, a company named Ominasis Italia purchased the historic health spa buildings for 900,000 lats, promising to invest close to €16m into their facelift and restoration. But instead of being brought back to its “former glory”, the magnificent architectural monument fell further into decay, shaming all who recalled its original significance to Latvia’s tourism sector during the 1930s, when it was built as a shining public health resource with state funding. The buildings and surrounding parkland were famous for their mineral rich mud-baths and medicinal treatments, which attracted foreigners as well as locals.

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