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Riga City Council decides to restore ownership of 22 land plots next to airport

Riga City Council on Wednesday decided to annul the resolution adopted on September 21, 2022 on the completion of the privatization of 22 land plots next to Riga Airport, thus restoring the ownership rights to these land plots.

The city council also annulled the decision to initiate spatial planning for the area between the city border, Priedaines Street, Mukupurva Street, Nikrāces Street and Grencu Street.

Previously, Riga City Council twice failed to adopt this decision due to a lack of quorum.

The city council had to take the decision because on February the prosecutor general pointed out in a petition to the councilors that the 22 undeveloped land plots next to the airport, which are necessary for a further expansion of the strategic airfield, have been sold off unlawfully.

According to the prosecutor’s office, during the privatization process the local authority failed to assess the necessity of the land plots for the performance of state administration functions or state or municipal commercial activities. All 22 land plots are located in the territory necessary for the further development of Riga Airport.

The prosecutor general has obliged the municipality to restore its ownership rights to the 22 land plots and to suspend the development of the spatial plan for the area.

At a press conference on Wednesday, Riga Mayor Vilnis Kirsis (New Unity) admitted that Riga councilors may have been misled in their decision to sell off the land plots.

Latvian Television reported earlier that Janis Vaivods, the former acting head of the Spatial Planning and Mobility Department at Riga City Council, is suspected of offering Transport Minister Kaspars Briskens’ (Progressives) adviser Janis Meirans a EUR 50,000 bribe, asking him to persuade the transport minister to drop the ministry’s claim to the land next to the airport.

On April 14, 2022, undeveloped land plots near Riga Airport owned by the local government were sold at an auction. They were purchased for EUR 5.7 million by Cella Investment 3, a company linked to real estate developer Sirin Development. Both companies are part of the Lithuanian holding company ME Holding NT.

The total size of the land plots is 389,394 square meters. They are located approximately 400 meters from the airport’s fenced area and the city border with Marupe Municipality, between Mazas Gramzdas, Kalnciema, Miklenu, Karklu and Mukupurva Streets. The boundary of the plots is also located approximately 500 meters from Karlis Ulmanis Avenue, and approximately 600 meters from the road leading to the airport.

In 2010, Riga City Council commissioned the municipal construction company Rigas Pilsetbuvnieks to develop a regional exhibition and conference center on the land plots and added the land plots to the company’s share capital. Later, in 2012, Riga City Council abandoned the project and decided to sell off the land plots. In 2022, the land plots were sold at an auction and in 2023 the local government decided to start the development of a spatial plan.

Sirin Development had previously promised that more than EUR 100 million would be invested in the property. The plan envisaged that the site would be developed in several phases, resulting in 180,000 square meters of modern logistics warehouses.

Source: BNS

(Reproduction of BNS information in mass media and other websites without written consent of BNS is prohibited.)

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