Tourist Infrastructure for the Berlin – Kaliningrad – Klaipėda Waterway in Tczew and Klaipėda
21st century projects in Klaipėda
From a purely industrial town a dozen years ago, today the Lithuanian port city of Klaipeda is turning into a vital, internationally minded cultural and scientific center of Western Lithuania, and a rapidly developing destination of marine tourism. The efforts of the city were not in vain - over the last five years cruise tourism in Klaipeda increased four times, making it the number one city according to the growth of this field in the whole Baltic Sea region. For example, in 2006 the port hosted 25 000 cruisers. Cruise liners brought tourists from all over the world. More and more foreign yachtsmen discover Klaipeda as an interesting place for vacation. Flags of different countries fly in our marinas during international sailing events and every day in the summertime. Each year the number of visitors from abroad, arriving to Lithuania by regular ferry lines via the port of Klaipeda, is rapidly increasing. In 2009 for the first time Klaipeda will host the most prestigious world regatta “The Tall Ships’ Races Baltic 2009” bringing in about 4 thousand participants from all corners of the world. This event will be dedicated to the Millennium of Lithuania celebrated the same year.
Marine Toursim Development Projects
Over the next five years, the historical cradle of the city – its center – the territories on both sides of the mouth of the river Dane falling into the Curonian Bay, will experience a boom of construction. Vast financial means will be invested by the city, EU SF, the Government and private investors.
Klaipeda is a long town stretching for about 20 km along the Curonian Bay and the Baltic sea, but in the soviet times all waterfronts were built up with ship building – repair industries. There is only one narrow public access rute to the waterfront in the central part of the city. Such a situation is unbearable for the locals and not attractive for tourists. Therefore, all attention of the city authorities was directed to change that situation altogether. The land of the territory in question is of different ownership – the owners are the city, the port, and private companies. All of them will develop their sites.
The Dane River Harbour
To meet the growing demand and contemporary quality standards of water tourism, the implementation of a number of vast development and regeneration waterfront projects has started. The major goal is to open public access to the Curonian Bay in the very center of the city, on the mouth of the river Dane, regenerating industrial territories into modern centers of marine tourism, recreation, culture and entertainment. With the help of EU SF, the city starts the reconstruction of the Dane river embankments and the Castle marina in the historic heart of Klaipeda. The value of the project is estimated over 8 mil. Eur. The project is implemented in a fragile territory of heritage – near the remnants of the Castle and bastions, where a new Castle Museum is accommodated. The reconstructed Castle marina will serve as a connecting historical chain, since from the outlook, it will be very similar to the authentic one. The length of its berths will be 1600 m., and of the reconstructed river embankments - 1500 m. An object of industrial heritage – a unique winding bridge will also be renovated. Infrastructural networks to serve yachts every 10 m will be installed, a dedicated ground to store entertainment ships in the winter, with special cranes to lift them, constructed. The project will be completed in autumn 2008.
Old Castle Place Regeneration
The Castle marina and the Dane embankments reconstruction is carried out by the city and comprises part of the whole Old Castle Place regeneration plan, called “The Sea Gate” also implemented by private investors, the value of which will reach several hundred million Litas. The former ship building and repair yards till 2009 will be withdrawn, redundant buildings demolished, instead – a number of modern hotels, restaurants, high-fly office and quality apartment buildings will appear. The new constructions and public spaces will be created in harmony with the historical heritage. All this area is adjacent to a busy new Cruise Terminal – the ownership of the port. In the whole “Sea Gate” area, tourists and visitors will be provided all possible cultural – entertainment services. Small workshops for yacht building and repair will be left just to serve the immediate needs of sailors and satisfy visitors’ curiosity. The first new hotel in this area - a reconstructed former 19th century rice warehouse will be opened in summer 2007. The idea to reconstruct one tower of the Castle in the medieval shape, but out of stain and glass to be dedicated for Congress and Culture Palace, crowns the whole Old Castle Place regeneration plan and will cost 100 mil. Lt. Since this land plot and the Castle Place itself belongs to the city, their development task falls on the shoulders of the city authorities. The regeneration of the whole 14 ha territory will require no less than 600 mil. Litas and will be carried out in stages. It is planned that the major projects will be completed in five- six years.
A New Passenger Terminal
JSCo Klaipeda Passenger and Cargo Terminal (KKKT) will be the operator of a new passenger terminal, which is due to start operation on June 1, 2009. It will be the second International Ferry Passenger Terminal in Klaipeda, since the first one from the nineteen nineties no longer satisfies contemporary demands. A new cargo and passenger terminal will occupy an area of 21,3 ha. A greater part of it comes from the reserve territory of the port. Its location is in a convenient place – in the middle of the city with straight access to Klaipeda – Vilnius highway (Trans European Network IXB corridor) and from it - to Via Baltica. A feasibility study carried out by a German company confirmed that the site is sufficient for a modern terminal to serve passengers and ro-ro technique. The main terminal building with a gallery will be 10 storeys and 30 meters high. There will be four other lower than 30 m buildings. Three objects of the project – the quay with a pier, a viaduct over the railway, Minijos street and a two-level crossroad of Baltijos street - leading from the terminal to the above mentioned highway, have been granted the status of state importance objects. The Government plans to allocate 120 mil Litas for them. The investment of the operator KKKT will be about 70 mil. KKKT representatives will participate at international transport exhibitions to introduce the new terminal and attract new ferry lines from Finland, Sweden, Poland to Klaipeda. The ferries to Kiel will be moved from the old terminal to the new one. The new terminal will also serve cruise ships.
Contemporary Quality Housing Projects
Apart from the mentioned projects, there are a number of other large territories under development. In the suburbs surrounding Klaipeda, one can see numerous construction areas of detached houses. Many Klaipedians prefer living in nature, further from the noise of the town. “Romai”, “The Town of the Sun”, “The Green valley”, “The new Kalote” are just a few new quarters of individual houses around Klaipeda under construction.
The younger generation chooses to live in modern multi-storey residential areas, such as Gandraliskes – a transformation project of the soviet tanks’ division. The first new settlers have already moved into their modern homes. Gandraliskes is an excellently planned 21st century quality dwelling area with a number of sky-scrapers to change the flat landscape of Klaipeda. It is near the second ferry station - five minutes crossing the Curonian Bay to reach the Curonian Spit national park and, walking trough the wonderful pine forest, reach the white sand beaches of the Baltic sea.
A New Residential Area Gandraliskes – a Regeneration Project of The Former Soviet Military Zone
Another great project worth 800 mil. Lt is called “The city of Memel” – its title is a tribute to the name of the city by which it was known for almost 700 years. The realization of this projects has not yet started, but will be completed in 2012. It will also be a waterfront regeneration project. A ship building yard “Laivite” withdraws and transforms into an exclusive zone of excellent waterfront apartments, office buildings, hotels, shops, etc. – there has never been anything like it Klaipeda before. Near the piers small entertainment vessels and medium size cruise liners will moore. “The Memel” area is opposite to the site of “The Sea Gate” project, on the Curonian Bay over the river Dane and surrounded by water from three sides. The two zones together will make a fine opening to the beautiful seascape with the Curonian national park in the horizon – and that’s in the very heart of the city! This has been a dream of Klaipedians for many years!
Regeneration of other industrial sites - like project “Hill of Mills’ or Culture Factory instead of the old Tobacco Factory, which concentrate in or around the central part of the city, will change the cityscape of Klaipeda altogether, and make it one of the most attractive Baltic cities of the 21st century. With many more great projects under way – reconstruction and construction of bridges, new streets, some large new zones for public use, several years from now Klaipeda will look like an entire construction site… But the temporary inconveniences will be worthwhile!