The representatives of the SE Turto bankas, which manages the state-owned real property and ensures its maintenance, of the Lithuanian Jewish Community, the Committee for the Preservation of Jewish Cemeteries in Europe, and of the implementation of the technical project agreed on solutions of the technical project for the reconstruction of Vilnius Palace of Concerts and Sports and its adaptation for conferences, congresses and other cultural events and of preservation of the territory of the old Vilnius Jewish cemetery in Snipiskes. The essential solutions for the renovation of the building, which is in the protection zone of the territory of the old Vilnius Jewish cemetery in Snipiskes, and solutions for the management of the territory of the old Vilnius Jewish cemetery in Snipiskes have been agreed.
The solutions of the technical project have been prepared in accordance with the heritage protection conditions of the territory and protection zone of the site of the old Vilnius Jewish cemetery in Snipiskes approved by the Protocol of 2009, that was signed between the Government of the Republic of Lithuania and the Lithuanian Jewish Community, and with the design proposals for adaptation of Vilnius Palace of Concerts and Sports for conferences, congresses and other cultural events. In 2016, they were approved by the Committee for the Preservation of Jewish Cemeteries in Europe.
“We are pleased by the fact that the parties managed to agree on this issue, which is important for our state and the Lithuanian Jewish Community. This consensus allows for an immediate start of works of reconstruction of the Congress Centre, by ensuring, at the same time, due respect to the memory of the old cemetery in Šnipiškės”, – says Deividas Matulionis, First Deputy Chancellor of the Government.
Mindaugas Sinkevičius, CEO of SE Turto bankas, Faina Kukliansky, Chairwoman of the Lithuanian Jewish Community, Rabbi Abraham Ginsberg, Executive Director at the Committee for the Preservation of Jewish Cemeteries in Europe, Rabbi Herschel Gluck OBE, Representative of the Rabbinical Board Committee for the Preservation of Jewish Cemeteries in Europe, Sigitas Kuncevičius, project architect, and other persons related to the project.
According to Mindaugas Sinkevičius, CEO of Turto bankas, the agreement reached will not only lay a solid foundation for the implementation of the project, but it also serves as an example of successful cooperation between two cultures in protecting the historical heritage.
“Although economic goals are pursued through the project, and, more specifically, the goal is to make Vilnius become a conference centre of the Baltic States, the agreement reached, however, is also an example of successful cooperation between two cultures, which demonstrates respect for deceased ones and protects the heritage of the Jewish nation which left such a distinct mark in the history of Lithuania. Agreement on the essential solutions of the project and the process opens the way for the completion of the technical project, the selection of the operator and works of reconstruction.”, – says M. Sinkevičius.
“This project is essential. It will help stop the construction of residential buildings and the development of any structures in the territory of the cemetery, by complementing the agreement of 2009. Furthermore, this will ensure the protection of the cemetery, and will help avoid any threat to it or its desecration in the future”, – says Rabbi Abraham Ginsberg, Executive Director at the Committee for the Preservation of Jewish Cemeteries in Europe. He expresses gratitude on behalf of the Committee and the Rabbinical Board to everyone who contributed to reaching this agreement.
“The Lithuanian Jewish Community works together with the Committee for the Preservation of Jewish Cemeteries in Europe, and seeks consultation on all matters. Our goal is to leave the souls of the deceased ones undisturbed, and to show them due respect. If no tombstones have survived, the memory of the Jews, who are buried there, must be commemorated with dignity. The former cemetery should become a part of the city that is reminiscent of that. Commemoration must meet the requirements and canons of Judaism. I have no doubt that we will achieve that“, – says Faina Kukliansky, Chairwoman of the Lithuanian Jewish Community.
Essential solutions of the reconstruction project, architectural, construction plans, also plans of communications, of the plot of land and organization of works have been agreed. It also stipulates that the representatives of the Committee for the Preservation of Jewish Cemeteries in Europe will participate in the implementation of the project, thus ensuring the preservation of Jewish memory and cultural heritage.
In the course of the development of Vilnius Congress Centre, in 2020, SE Turto bankas plans to launch a tender procedure for the operator of the complex. The selected operator will manage the centre and will ensure continuous activity in it. There are also plans to select next year a general contractor for the reconstruction of the building. The estimated start of activity of Vilnius Congress Centre is at the end of 2022 – the beginning of 2023.
Vilnius Congress Centre will operate after the reconstruction of Vilnius Palace of Concerts and Sports (Rinktinės str. 1). Vilnius Palace of Concerts and Sports has been recognised as a cultural heritage site. For this reason, it is reconstructed by retaining its cultural properties to be protected.
There will be up to ten halls of various sizes in the new complex. They will serve as a venue for congresses, conferences and other cultural events. The largest conference hall will accommodate up to 2,400 participants. There will be exhibition spaces in the centre, also catering spaces for the service of event attendees, and, simultaneously, up to 4,800 visitors will be able to visit the centre.
The technical project is implemented by a successful tenderer – a consortium consisting of companies Archimenai, Institute of Design and Restoration, Vilnius Architecture Studio and Sigitas Kuncevičius design company.
In 2015, SE Turto bankas, implementing the project, acquired from Šiaulių bankas to the ownership of the state a complex of Vilnius Palace of Concerts and Sports in Vilnius, Rinktinės str. 1, for an amount of 5.6 million euros, and currently manages it under the trust right.