Buying a Ghost Town at an Auction

For three point one million dollar, in London, New York City or Moscow one buys a 300 square meters apartment in the city center, but on the grey Baltic country side one buys a complete city for this amount of money. A Russian investor bought the ghost town Skrunda-1 in Latvia at an auction in Riga, two weeks ago. The final price of 3.1 million dollars was far beyond expectation as the starting price was ten times less than that (310,000 dollars). Skundra-1 is an old military city that gave shelter to approximately 5,000 people during the Cold War. More than a decade ago the place was left as a consequence of the military and political collapse of the Soviet imperium.

It’s not clear yet which plans the buyer, Aleksejevskoje-Serviss, has for the property, which counts 45 hectares and is located in western Latvia, about 95 miles (150 kilometers) from Riga. The town consists of about 70 abandoned buildings including apartment blocks, a school, barracks, eateries, gyms and two night clubs.

The Latvian government made plans for the ruining ghost town Skundra-1 before. Plans to transform it a recreational area went nowhere and two years ago the authorities finally decided to privatize the town and organized an auction for the entire settlement. Whether this is a good plan or not should be concluded after a couple of years. Some of the people living nearby hate the culture of privatization and the complete sell-out of Latvian collective property to rich Russians. Others understand that something has to happen to save Skrunda-1 from complete demolition. At least someone has spent 3.1 million dollars and might want to get the money back. Aleksejevskoje-Serviss has to do something and this might lead to interesting ideas to make the area attractable. Especially I hope to see this two night clubs re-opening.

Photos: Kappas (Flickr)

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