The future of Liepājas metalurgs is planned to be the same as the naval port Karosta Industrial Park, “where, by arranging a degraded area, investing in infrastructure – in the streets with communications, an environment is created for companies to build their own factories,” said Uldis Hmieļevskis, manager of the Special Economic Zone (SEZ) of Liepāja.
Seven years ago, Liepājas SEZ and the municipality implemented investment projects in the Karosta territory, investing more than €3 million, Hmieļevskis said.
"As a result, four plants have now been built there, 500 new jobs created, and more than €20 million in private investment in buildings alone, excluding technology. Such industrial parks are paying off, and industrial parks should continue to be built, creating an environment," said Hmieļevskis.
Although it is still unclear at the moment when exactly and what action will be taken by the Turkish investor who purchased some of the properties and electric steel furnaces belonging to Metalurgs, the city and SEZ have already developed an area plan.
“We have marked this place for a green and modern industrial park. [..] A great deal of work has been done in order to be able to implement it. On December 29 last year, the Ministry of Environmental Protection and Regional Development approved the local planning of the former “Metalurgs” plant. On this basis, a new street network is being projected, and technical projects are being developed that will be submitted for funding and park development. This will be a very serious driver of the economic development of the Liepāja region,” Hmieļevskis said.
Development will take place in the long term. Liepāja city architect Uģis Kaugurs said that this part of the city needs to be sorted.
"Even if we didn't need it, we can't expect it to grow into a beautiful meadow, it won't, unfortunately. That means we have to do something. We need to maintain this industrial area, convert it so it is useful to Liepāja. Not one piece with high risks, but these could be different types of production and business that diversify these risks from a business and environmental point of view," said Uģis Kaugurs.
The good news is that the pollution of the site is less than it was originally expected. However, it is not possible to use this site for the construction of residential buildings because there has been long-term pollution, explained Kaugurs.
"It's more packed with rubbish than contaminated with poisonous substances; there are separate sites where there is oil pollution or metal, but they are separate sites, not all over the territory. The recovery plan is still to be developed, it is only at the initial stage," Kaugusr said.
Currently, several companies use the former “Liepājas metalurgs” site, as Liepājas SEZ Board leases the site for the storage of woodchips and other goods.