Vilnius Council gave a go-ahead for the refurbishment of the Concert and Sports Palace, a derelict edifice built within the site of an old Jewish cemetery. The mayor says the works will be carried out with due respect for the site.
Under the draft agreement between the city and the public property manager Turto Bankas (Property Bank), the municipality would refurbish the grounds around the Sports Palace, while Turto Bankas would convert the building into a convention centre by 2023.
“We have design plans ready to ensure that the grounds on the site of the former Jewish cemetery are refurbished with all due respect,” Vilnius Mayor Remigijus Šimašius told BNS.
The territory of the old Jewish cemetery in Šnipiškės is a cultural heritage site protected by the state. Some of it is owned by the municipality and the other part is owned by Turto Bankas. The cost of the refurbishment estimated at 3.42 million euros.
According to the municipality, the works in the old cemetery will involve installing footpaths, lawns with flower beds, and information signs.
The municipality says the project has been approved by the Lithuanian Jewish Community and the Committee for the Preservation of Jewish Cemeteries in Europe.
The idea of converting the Sports Palace, built in 1971, into a conference centre has been in the plans since 2015.
Some Jewish organisations, including the Jewish Community of Vilnius, have opposed the initiative.