Depopulated towns consider demolishing Soviet-era apartment buildings

DELFI / Tomas Vinickas

Many municipal leaders, among them Visaginas regional municipal mayor Dalia Štraupaitė, are calling for the demolition of some Soviet-era apartment buildings. “The Ignalina nuclear power plant gave us two unfinished apartment buildings. They’re old and abandoned. They need to be demolished but the municipality doesn’t have the funds for that in its budget,” said Štraupaitė. According to her, there are at least four such unfinished and abandoned apartment buildings in Visaginas.

“Many apartment buildings in the regions are really in poor condition, and come in last place as far as demand is concerned,” architect and city planner Mindaugas Pakalnis. “I think some municipalities should really consider what they should do with the estates they have. We have spoken many times about how renovating those buildings doesn’t make sense because of their irrationally designed interior spaces and the lifestyles of smaller cities’ residents. People are living, working, and building private homes, but apartment buildings are becoming homes to social problems.”

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“There are homes that haven’t been finished since the Soviet era. They are totally abandoned. Drug addicts gather there and people dump their garbage. They are homes that are polluting the environment,”said Štraupaitė. However, she also said that the demolition of these buildings could lead to the creation of private residential areas, for which there was a demand.

“Visaginas is a compact city of barely 58 sq. km. We are limited by a national forest on one side and the Ignalina nuclear power plant’s sanitary zone on the other. There are 186 people who want to build individual homes here, but we can’t even form any plots of land for them,” Štraupaitė explained. She said that wealthier people who had lived in Visaginas would leave for Ignalina or Zarsai, if not other countries, because Visaginas could not offer them land.

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