Since 2019, SJSC "State Real Estate" (SRE) has invested 49.5 million euro in the development and management of Latvian cultural and historical monuments under its management. Currently, there are several more cultural monument restoration projects in the development stage, in which construction work has already started or will start in the next two years, totalling 86 million euro, according to Renārs Griškevičs, chairman of the Board of SRE.
Out of all 7392 cultural and historical monuments registered on the https://is.mantojums.lv website, 171 cultural and historical buildings (which are located in 87 real estate properties) or 2.3% of all cultural monuments in Latvia are under the management of SRE. Of these, 144 are of national importance and 27 are of local importance. 32% of the development projects of cultural monuments – renovation, adaptation and restoration projects, are implemented in cooperation with the Ministry of Culture. The Ministry of Culture and its subordinate institutions are located in 110 buildings with the status of cultural and historical monuments, including four theatres. The cultural monuments managed by SRE include 26 museums and their branches, a total of six palaces and manors, as well as other important historical monuments.
"The development of cultural and historical buildings and their management in accordance with modern requirements is an extremely broad, challenging and time-consuming field. It involves not only the manager, but also top-class specialists, representatives of the industry and the public. The involved parties must be able to agree on the content of the building, future development plans, the desire and need to preserve the cultural and historical heritage, as well as the amount of available funding. SRE, as a state capital company, must act responsibly towards the use of public funding, therefore we invest a large amount of available funding in those buildings and monuments under our management which have a clear vision of the future and the fulfilment of the content," says R. Griškevičs.
In the future, new solutions will be provided by the development of uniform criteria for the cultural heritage of immovable properties, which are planned to be submitted to the Cabinet of Ministers for consideration in the coming months. Their adoption will allow evaluation of which properties to leave under state management and development, and which to move for alienation and searching for new development opportunities. SRE, together with the ministry of industry and experts, has been working on the development of criteria since 2021. The properties known to the public, the further development of which requires clear criteria, are Mežotne Palace and Teter’s House.
The most ambitious restoration and renovation works of cultural and historical monuments under the management of SRE are taking place in the oldest convent (kastel), part of the Riga Castle. Already within the next month, everyone will have the opportunity to see the uncovered historical southern facade of the 16th century, and by the end of the year, Remters Hall will regain its former glory. In general, the first two rounds of the restoration and renovation works of the castle will be carried out by 2024. The restoration of the complex is also actively underway in the New Riga Theatre. In the next month, the theatre will have a roof, so that in the spring of 2023, the theatre premises can be returned to the employees of the New Riga Theatre. During the last four years, windows and facades have been renovated in seven cultural and historical buildings, including the Exhibition Hall "Arsenāls" at 1 Torņa Street, Riga, and the Pharmacy Museum at 13 Riharda Vāgnera Street, Riga. Currently, facades are being restored in a total of seven historical buildings, and reconstruction works are actively underway in seven others.
The green direction taken by SRE towards climate-neutral building management will contribute not only to extending the life cycle of buildings, but also decreasing the impact on the environment and the consumption of necessary resources, as well as reducing management costs. For example, in the historical building at 6 Kalpaka Boulevard, Riga, the sustainable guidelines in the construction of public buildings developed by SRE will be implemented. The designing will take place in the 3D building information modelling (BIM) environment and will reduce the costs of the building's full life cycle and the negative impact on the environment, while creating suitable premises for the needs of the Latvian Prosecutor's Office. During the last four years, energy efficiency has been improved for 58% of the projects related to cultural and historical buildings and properties. In cultural and historical buildings, these works provide the greatest benefit, because the consumption of energy resources of these buildings is significantly higher than that of modern buildings and there are ample opportunities to reduce it. Currently, nine energy efficiency projects are being implemented under the management of SRE with the support of EU structural funds. In addition to the reconstruction projects of the convent (kastel) part of Riga Castle and the New Riga Theatre, the energy efficiency works of the historical building of the Daile Theatre, the Staņislavs Broks Musical School in Daugavpils, as well as the Latvia Puppet Theatre are also underway.
The capital company develops a sustainable development plan for each building under its management. Funding for the restoration of cultural monuments has so far been attracted both from the state budget funds, and by purposefully attracting EU structural funds or by diverting them from the alienation of real estate that the state does not need. The increase in the price of raw construction materials caused by the hostilities in Ukraine, the need to rapidly change the logistics of supply chains, and the temporary unavailability of certain materials have affected all projects currently under construction. Not only have the contractors had to adapt, but also the customers – searching for the missing funding as quickly as possible to cover the increase in price, while ensuring the continuity of the work. Now already in the six most important projects, together with all the involved parties, solutions have been found for additional funding, in order not to, as far as possible, affect the originally set deadlines for the implementation of the projects.
SRE successfully implements 44 projects of national importance, of which 24 are in the construction stage. The total implementation budget of the projects is more than 336 million euro. SRE provides professional real estate management and administration for approximately 352 real estate properties consisting of 1000 buildings with a total floor area of 0.95 million square metres, along with land beneath the buildings covering 607 hectares and more than 3460 land properties with an area of 907 hectares. SRE is one of 23 Latvian companies that has received the highest platinum award as part of the Sustainability Index of the Institute of Corporate Responsibility and Sustainability, confirming the good governance and sustainability of its operations. The company was founded in 1996 and is 100% owned by the Ministry of Finance.