Authorities mull new uses for historical prison in Vilnius

A former early-twentieth-century prison in central Vilnius could be converted into a multifunctional centre for private businesses, entertainment, cultural enterprises and tourism, the centralized public property manager Turto Bankas has said after analysing proposals from various institutions.

The Lukiškės prison complex was built in 1904 and closed down last July. The structure is listed as architectural heritage.

It has also been tipped as one of the shooting locations for the new season of the Netflix series Stranger Things.

“The shared vision of all institutions is that [Lukiškės prison] has to be a multifunctional attraction and carry many social functions,” Inga Urbonaitė-Vadoklienė, the Lukiškės project coordinator at Turto Bankas, told BNS on Thursday.

“It has to be a complex bringing various activities and various social groups together, serving both to the city’s inhabitants and visitors,” she said.

Lukiškės prison / E. Blaževič/LRT

The government has given Turto Bankas until March 2020 to find out how the complex, which covers about 2 hectares in the heart of the city, could be used.

Around 20 institutions have presented their expectations for the prison’s possible conversion. Turto Bankas will now invite proposals from the general public.

In light of all these proposals, the property manager plans to prepare a feasibility study by April.

While demolition is not among the options being considered, institutions want to know how change in the structure can be allowed, according to Urbonaitė-Vadoklienė.

Lukiškės prison in central Vilnius / E. Blaževič/LRT

“For example, can we leave only a symbolic part of the cells and deconstruct the space, or are we going to preserve all of them? This is where discussion with cultural heritage professionals begins,” the coordinator said.

“It is difficult to answer before detailed studies of the structure are completed,” she added.

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