State breaks contract for reconstructing the New Rīga Theater building

Valsts Nekustamie Īpašumi (VNI), the state real estate management company, is to terminate contract with construction company Rere Būve 1 for reconstructing the New Rīga Theater's (JRT) building.

That's what Rere Būve boss Valdis Koks told LETA. Rere Būve was informed by VNI about termination of the contract July 23. Koks believes that the state company's decision is unfounded, saying that the company will turn to courts in order to have it overturned.

"The contractor was involved in the JRT reconstruction project, relying on the customer's responsible attitude to the project, and relying on Zaiga Gaile, the author of the technical project for the reconstruction, to prepare this project of national importance in good faith, making all the necessary calculations and assessments," said Koks.

He said that when the project began, the construction company was working strictly according to the project, using the solutions and technologies specified by the designer. The builder has identified and to this day continues to identify various significant errors and shortcomings in the technical design that endanger the entire project.

"To date, more than 100 errors have been identified in Zaiga Gaile's project, of which at least 33 were so bad that, had they not been eliminated, the project would have been impossible," said Koks.

As expected, both sides are pointing the finger at one another, with VNI saying that not only the construction firm did not follow established procedures during construction, but also did not take the necessary steps to correct the situation.

"We counted on the construction company to be a responsible partner which would put an end to the violations, but that did not happen. The public have already heard about the problems during pile drilling works, as a result of which there were fractures in the neighboring houses and construction was stopped. As we reviewed the documentation, we found that the task was not done properly and that vibration levels were not duly monitored. It is unacceptable," said VNI board chairman Andris Vārna.

The state real estate firm will continue cooperation with architect Zaiga Gaile, and a new tender for reconstructing the building will be issued in August. 

Zaiga Gaile, whose work Rere has now severely criticized, meanwhile cast the blame with the company.

"With the piles, it was an obvious violation by Rere. Thank God, VNI's technical supervisor has been up to the task and has precisely recorded all the negligence and barbarities of Rere. The damage done to the neighboring house, the fractures – it's all exclusively the fault of Rere," said Gaile.

Meanwhile VNI is to fix these fractures in the neighboring houses and later try to extract money from Rere. It is not clear yet how much this will cost. 

But within a year since work was started, only 3% of the reconstruction has been done. Works have to be finished by 2022 so that EU funding is not lost. 

It is not yet clear whether the current €21m budget for reconstructing the building on Rīga's 25 Lāčplēša Street will increase. 

The only thing that is clear is that there'll be lengthy court proceedings between the parties. 

The New Riga Theater (JRT) is well known as a hotbed of high-quality and cutting-edge drama. It has gained an international reputation under the leadership of artistic director Alvis Hermanis.

The reconstruction project will almost double the theater space and also refit the yard. The new building is to have 825 audience seats, as opposed to the previous 400, and three separate performance stages.

For the next couple of years, JRT has relocated to new premises, known as the Tobacco Factory, on Miera iela in Rīga. The temporary premises are not without problems.

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