Out of all 7378 cultural monuments registered on the website https://is.mantojums.lv, SJSC State Real Estate (SRE) manages 127 objects or 1.7% of the total number of cultural monuments. Currently investments in the amount of 77.3 million euros are being made at 20 addresses for their development and maintenance. In addition, project implementation in the amount of 75.7 million euros has been prepared by SRE at 13 addresses, informs Renārs Griškevičs, Chairman of the Board of SRE.
Of the 127 cultural and historical monuments managed by SRE, 98 are of national significance and 29 are of local significance. 88 of them are intended for long-term preservation for the needs of public administration and are included in the basic portfolio of SRE properties. 26 cultural monuments are currently in the asset portfolio of SRE - these are properties that are currently used in full or partly by public authorities, but in the long run they are not necessary for public functions or can be developed and transferred to the basic portfolio. It is planned to alienate 13 properties - for example, the buildings of the Daugavpils fortress territory, which are planned to be transferred to Daugavpils Municipality, as well as the former sanatoriums - Īle sanatorium in Auce Municipality and sanatorium 'Saulstari' in Ogre, where there are currently legal obstacles to their alienation.
“We will continue to preserve cultural heritage in buildings of national importance with honour. We are an important “player”, but the playing field is extremely wide - for many buildings the state is still looking for both possibilities of use and funding opportunities. In order to jointly find a solution to the future fate of such buildings, SRE has initiated the establishment of a working group. The goal of it - in cooperation with the involved parties - is for the responsible institutions of the sector to find the best scenarios and criteria for the development of cultural monuments, which will determine which state property cannot be considered for sale to private entrepreneurs in the future”, R. Griškevičs points out.
Funding for the restoration of cultural monuments has so far been attracted in several ways: from the state budget, by purposefully attracting EU structural funds or by diverting funds from the alienation of real estate that the state does not need. Currently, 11 energy efficiency projects are being implemented under the leadership of SRE with the support of the EU structural funds, including the renovation of the cultural monument of Dailes Theatre. In the coming weeks, the renovation of the historic customs building at Kr. Valdemāra iela 1a, Riga will be completed, where the Internal Security Bureau is located. Funding for the renovation was attracted from SRE capital investments. At the end of 2022, the New Riga Theatre will return to the historical residence at Lāčplēša iela 25, Riga, design works are underway for the renovation of the visitors' favourite concert hall - the home of Latvian National Symphony Orchestra - Grand Guild and the reconstruction of Ventspils historic Gūtšmitu nams at Kuldīgas iela 2, where a joint client service centre for 5 state and local government institutions will be located. The National History Museum of Latvia is waiting to return to its home - Riga Castle - after the restoration of the castle kastel in 2024 under the leadership of SRE. Funds for the restoration of these cultural monuments are mainly found in the state budget. In recent years, cultural monuments important for the visitors have been restored - popular museums, such as the Museum of the History of Riga and Navigation, the Pharmacy Museum, the facade of the exhibition hall “Arsenāls”, the home of the Ministry of Culture in Kr. Valdemāra iela 11a, as well as other socially important cultural buildings.
“The care for buildings that have the status of Latvian cultural monuments is different from the management of standard office buildings. Preserving cultural heritage requires the involvement of high-quality specialists in the planning and implementation of restoration work, there are not many of them, and, naturally, it is a time-consuming process that requires greater financial investments. One of the brightest examples is the restoration of the oldest part of Riga Castle, adapting it to the needs of the National History Museum of Latvia. After the implementation of the project, it should take 1st place in the ranking of Latvian cultural monuments in terms of the quality of restoration,” reveals Griškevičs.
“We are the most visible state property manager and a strong centre of competence - we have real estate appraisal experts, project managers, construction experts, lawyers, IT support and other components for efficient work. When renovating Latvian cultural monuments and other buildings, we are convinced of the importance of digital technologies and invest in these competencies. Before their reconstruction, laser scanning works are performed in the buildings, which allows one to record the actual condition of the building with high accuracy. The building information model (BIM) or the building's digital twin helps to overcome construction challenges more effectively, allowing all parties involved in construction to cooperate more conveniently, faster and more flexibly, timely identifying problem areas and eliminating them in parallel with the construction works,” explains Griškevičs.
It is rational and economically justified to invest in buildings where the purpose and content of their use is clear. The SRE manages the buildings, but their content and use are decided by the users of the industry, therefore, the capital company manages several buildings intended for the provision of public functions, which are still awaiting their use, the most visible examples of which are Tetera nams at Brīvības iela 61, Riga and the building at Pils laukums 2 in Riga reserved for cultural function, and also Mežotne Palace. While awaiting a decision by the industry on their future use, the SRE continues to maintain them in order to prevent deterioration.
Cultural monument management models tend to be different. Due to the historically insufficient budget, some of the monuments were made available to institutions and museums free of charge as a temporary solution in 2006, with the user obligated to take care of them and manage them at their own expense. In recent years, there has been a gradual transition from these historically concluded management-use agreements to lease agreements, which include professional property development planning with the creation of provisions for sustainable building management, providing funds from the state budget. Currently, SRE has the following agreements for buildings with a total area of 65,531 m2, but standard lease agreements are for premises with an area of 87,227 m2.
The centralisation of state real estate management was started in 2006 in accordance with a government decision, which brings long-term added value to both the quality of real estate management and the economy, finding significant savings in resources and costs. Of the 127 cultural monuments currently managed by SRE, almost half - 89 have been taken over from the Ministry of Culture, 23 - from Riga City Municipality and related institutions (e.g., “Rīgas nami”), 8 - from Daugavpils Municipality, the remaining 7 - from other ministries and institutions.
Overall SRE company provides professional real estate management and administration for approximately 400 real estate properties with 1100 buildings of 1.02 million square metres and more than 3600 land properties with an area of 9.6 million square metres. As a testimony to good governance and sustainable operations, the company has received a Gold award in the Sustainability Index by the Institute of Corporate Responsibility and Sustainability. SRE was founded in 1996 and its sole (100%) shareholder is the Ministry of Finance of the Republic of Latvia.