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THE CITY STARTS WITH THE PORT: WHAT FUTURE CHANGES CAN BE EXPECTED IN ŠVENTOJI?

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A Baltic Sea cost of 90 km and sea-front real estate projects that can be virtually counted on the fingers of one hand – these are the reasons for envious comparisons with Latvia and Estonia who have far more access points to the sea and a more liberal legislation that regulate constructions on the seafront.

Magic of the sea

It is about time we included the Gates of Šventoji into the short list of unique properties. The Gates of Šventoji is an apartment complex which will offer occupants an opportunity to live in sync with the rhythm of the sea: tempestuous or melancholic, sometimes flapping the sails of the ships or mussing your hair, or sometimes extending the horizon into the infinity. Low-rise buildings located in a small island surrounded on three sides by the sea, river and sand dunes near the port of Šventoji are being renovated to make them equal match for the unpredictable neighbour. Realco’s managing director Julius Dovidonis admits that the location where you can sail into the sea right from your door or admire a sunset was a decisive factor in their decision to invest in Šventoji. The project initiators have already realized that this will be what attracts future residents of the Gates of Šventoji the most. Everyone who visited the location to look around the apartments wanted to check out the sea-front units and some even admitted that Šventoji resort was undeservingly underrated.

The city starts with the port

The Gates of Šventoji will be opened for the first occupants by the next summer. However, the newcomers should prepare themselves for a transformation: one day the windows of their apartments will overlook the sails of yachts and not the wild untamed sea views with fishermen’s boasts. While the renovation efforts at the port of Šventoji do not go exactly as planned and today the port does not give any hint of the merchant port ambitions fostered here for five hundred years, the vision remains largely unchanged: to transform a place still quietly frequented by modest fishermen boats into an attractive recreational sailing spot on the Baltic cost.

The renovation plans include deepening the area of water in the port and setting up required infrastructure including the renovation of the streets and pavements and installation of parking spaces. These plans were made more than five years back having concluded that the port of Šventoji could become a driving force that would provide impetus to the renewal of the entire town. The idea behind the urban concept is to revive the port by integrating it into the town. Thus a parallel task was set for the municipality to take care of the public spaces and turn them into attractive places where people could spend their free time, primarily focusing on constructing a quay with a pedestrian walkway. “Everyone realizes that we need a major impetus – a substantial initial investment that would attract private business,” said Mikelis Balčius, a resident of Šventoji and history expert. He kindly shared stories about the times during which, in his words, Lithuanians became convinced that a country without a sea is “a rather pitiful formation”: a period from the 16th to the 18th century when Šventoji was strategically more important than Palanga; it competed with Klaipėda, had a shipyard and its port was frequented by large English, Dutch and Swedish merchant ships taking cereals, hides and honey from the country and bringing in iron, manufactured goods, salt, wine, herring and weapons.

White sails will be a more common sight

Kęstutis Oginskas, a yachtsman and head of Šventoji Tourism Association, is also eagerly waiting for the implementation of the concept which is still in the port renovation project proposal stage and for the town and the Gates of Šventoji to acquire one more advantage. “The expected depth of the entry channel is four meters thus it will be able to handle larger yachts of up to 60 feet (about 20 m). It is likely that larger yachts will relocate to the renovated port over a time frame of several years as the port will be able to accommodate about 500 vessels and it will offer a direct access to the sea. Meanwhile in Klaipėda, they have to cross the port area to access the sea,” explained the sailor comparing the two ports. Another reason for its popularity is the fact that Šventoji is located between the port of Klaipėda and the port of Liepaja, and both of these ports could be reached within a few hours. “A sailing yacht now takes at least ten hours to travel from Klaipėda to Liepaja, and under poor weather conditions, you may not be able to make it until dark,” K. Oginskas explained the benefits of the location. Incidentally, Latvia is set to reconstruct a fishermen port of the pre-war era in Pape, Latvia, not far away from Šventoji, by 2028. The country also plans to open a large recreation park nearby.

The yachtsman claims that the sailing port of Šventoji will also be unique due to its tranquil environment that it will offer unlike the ports of Klaipėda and Liepaja which are located in the city centre. Šventoji will be a peaceful oasis compared to the environment in the afore-mentioned ports.

This November, Šventoji Tourism Association will present a study entitled “Development Opportunities for Sailing Ports in the Mainland Cost of Lithuania” which will include discussions on the importance of the port of Šventoji for the entire region. According to K. Oginskas, the following are the most important aspects: the port of Šventoji would make a positive impact on the resort ratings of Palanga and at the same time would drive the real estate prices, and the resort chain of Klaipėda – Šventoji – Pape – Liepaja – Pavilosta – Ventspils will encourage inbound tourism (both sea and land).  Finally, this will give rise to new sea route planning options and strong centres of attraction will emerge inland. Šventoji is set to become this type of centre.

 The developers of the Gates of Šventoji project are waiting for important decisions and efforts that would shape the future of the town and, for the time being, are implementing their own vision. “Fixing just one part is not likely to change anything. We need an all-encompassing and consistent approach. However, we have to start somewhere. We hope that the successful completion of this apartment complex and making Šventoji appealing to the upper classes will provide impetus for further change,” J. Dovidonis said.  One thing is certain: for lucky ones, the Realco’s project will become a quiet place to escape the city hustle and bustle and will offer a private haven to which one is always happy to return.

www.sventosiosvartai.lt

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