Global experience in the re-planning of industrial territories was first utilised successfully in Rīga 15 or 20 years ago, when people came to the conclusion that abandoned industrial objects were truly an outstanding place for investments.  Today such objects house museums, art galleries, as well as multifunctional complexes of entertainment centres, homes and offices.  One of the latest projects of this type is called Lakeside, and it is located on the banks of Lake Ķīšezers, at the former Jaunciems Paper Factory.  The body of water that is alongside the site, permission to build multi-story buildings and the high intensity of construction in the area – these are the main advantages of the location, says Vestards Rozenbergs, co-owner and board chairman of Baltic Sotheby’s International Realty.  He is an expert in the luxury real estate market.

Global experience shows that many prestigious offices, flats and salons are housed not in new buildings, but instead in the facilities of former factories and industrial plants.  International experience in the re-planning of industrial objects was put to use when the market economy first began to develop in Latvia.  Many factories which were built with no concern for ecological considerations were shut down.

All re-planned industrial objects in Latvia can be divided up into four categories – retail and office complexes, residential buildings, leisure centres, and logistics centres.  Today they are an organic part of the urban environment and infrastructure, taking on not just new functional meaning, but also aesthetic value.

Examples of this include the former Gypsum Factory (now a row of luxury flats on Ķīpsala Island), The Dream Factory (a venue for musical performances and entertainment), and Māra’s Gardens (a residential complex), among others.

“We can also mention Hamburg, where the city centre includes one of the most famous re-planned industrial objects in the world.  Restructuring of industrial zones has now become more active once again in Latvia, as well.  Projects that were suspended in the past are being reinstated.  Some of them are in the city centre or near bodies of water.  Today these locations allow us to make use of the relevant advantages at a far higher level or quality and diversity than is the case with industrial objects,” says Rozenbergs.

Rozenbergs believes that the Lakeside project is one such project.  “There are hardly any locations in Rīga which are close to bodies of water and appropriate for the construction of new complex which satisfy ecological and environmental needs,” he says.  “The unique aspect of Lakeside, which is on the banks of Lake Ķīšezers is its location – the only location for construction with a high level of construction intensity – 110%, with a maximum building height of five stories, as is dictated by the mixed residential and industrial zoning status.  The complex has been registered in the Rīga Development Plan.  The property has a 330 m boundary on the south-western shore of the lake and a 240 m industrial type cement pier.  Alongside the property is the newly installed Jaunciems Port, which offers sailing and other types of water sports.”

Latvia’s laws, particularly in terms of a recently adopted law on territorial development, allow old industrial objects to gain a second life.  “At a conference of territorial planning professionals in Rīga at the beginning of this summer, it became clear that co-operation between local governments and developers is becoming more and more productive,” says Rozenbergs.  “That allows us to hope that carefully developed projects that have been implemented successfully in Europe can now be implemented in Rīga, as well.”

Very soon the people of Latvia, including residents, non-residents, landowners and investors, will be able to receive information about land use via the Internet, finding out about any encumbrances which apply to the specific object and taking part in public hearings about the new project without leaving their homes or offices.  “TAPIS is a territorial development information system which will be online in Latvia in 2014,” says Ingūna Urtāne from the Latvian Ministry for Environmental Protection and Regional Development.  “Thanks to the TAPIS system, information about land investment projects will be more complicated, detailed, true and accessible.”

This will make it easier for investors to take decisions that are based on tested information from a trustworthy source.

Successful examples of reconstruction projects

The Gypsum Factory.  The gypsum factory, which was used as a laundry during World War II, now houses luxury flats.

The Dream Factory.  The glass factory was built in 1911 and is now a cultural centre and place where artists can gather.

The Railroad Museum.  The Rīga Railroad Museum is housed in a locomotive repair depot that was built in the 19th century, and it is used for a variety of events.

Mara’s Gardens.  This is a residential complex on land of the Aurora factory, which was once the largest stocking manufacturer in Latvia.

The VEF Factory.  Once Latvia’s largest electromechanical company, this venue now houses clubs, hotels and a shopping centre.

The Alfa Factory.  The ALFA manufacturing alliance gave the name to a modern shopping centre that is located on the site of the former Rīga Semi-Conductor Equipment Factory and Microsystem Scholarly Research Institute.

More information about the Lakeside project can be found at