Déjà vu all over again
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Kallis Allan23 Aug 2017 07:11
Thank you for this very informative article. I look forward to reading the next article. Excellent work!

Shareholder
voter23 Aug 2017 08:19
Ecellent ! Hope that Esto Community will follow up and demand answers.
Shareholder23 Aug 2017 12:33
This is a very important article. Thank you Allan for putting this together.
Truth be told24 Aug 2017 02:24
How many Estonians read about Tampõld in the Globe and Mail in 1974? The national newspaper reported that Tampõld and his partner Wells designed Tartu College, Neill-Wycik College (Ryerson U.), and Pestalozzi College (Ottawa) in the 1970’s, and at the same time, in schemes involving family trusts, titular positions, and their construction boss, acquired for themselves, as lenders to the debt-stressed projects of which they were themselves the architects, the ground-floor commercial rental rights on three prime properties for $1. (one dollar) a year, for 50, 30, and 30 years!

The EWR piece provides a link to the article and examines the impact of that historical development for the Estonian community, along with implications for the Madison Project and Estonian House. Its value is heuristic. Heuristic (from the Greek “heuriskein” meaning to discover”) pertains to the process of gaining knowledge or some desired result by intelligent guesswork rather than by following some pre-established formula. Readers who recently attended the Tartu College lecture on AI (Artificial Intelligence) should note the contrast of “heuristic” with “algorithmic” procedures in decision-making, and appreciate the undertaking of Meiusi’s article to ground analysis of “human” judgment.

Without the income from those prime commercial rental rights, Tartu College in 2013 took on a significant debt obligation ($10 million), having not been able to accumulate in a timely manner the reserve funds for a major upgrade. Readers can google student residents’ reviews and blogs for details of complaints about antiquated suites, sealed windows, climate control, plumbing, elevators, internet and WiFi issues, etc., tolerable only because of the location and cheap rates.

In the 1974 Globe and Mail article, only three years into Canada’s policy of multiculturalism, the word “Estonian” does not appear. “Ground-floor rental rights sold for $1 a year” is the sensational headline, a title that describes the content which details three big forcible extractions of value, involving each time the same players - architect Tampõld and partner Wells- and institutions - student residences for which CMHC was providing 90% financing at low interest for 50 years, signalling a time of great prosperity. Ballooning budgets and shortfalls, however, resulted in cash crises; Tampõld and Wells stepped in to make not only a loan, but also a loan-lease; beyond the first few years, when their corporation got its money back, no risk justified the arrangement by which it profited from the 50-year rental rights for which they paid $50. The Globe and Mail exposé is obviously raising the possibility of manufactured crises, and the related issue of taxpayer (public) funding for projects from which private interests profit.

The significance of what happens between the front end of starting up a new project and the back end of the operation of the building is one take-away from this history. Times, too, have changed. The 3-orgs “invited” Estonian House to come in at the front end “start-up” of a new project. An expansion is taking place at the same time as the proposed shut down and sale of Estonian House. Would the mission of Estonian House, constructed with charitable dollars, be distorted or served? What will be the sources of funding, and will the business model be based on meeting the needs of the community? When will the “4-orgs” leadership talk in specifics about their objectives and their plans to meet them?
Keep us informed, Allan!19 Sep 2017 09:35
Thank you, Allan, for your in-depth investigative reporting, which is just amazing. You are a pro. Keep up the good work.

A few things erk me:

1) No surveying of the public was done to find out what people thought about the Madison site prior to spending a sizable amount of cash on architectural drawings and other consultants. This was short-sighted, since a fair number of potential funders are now lukewarm about a project that is a poor choice regarding traffic congestion, limited parking options, and a location directly above a subway line that is sure to affect the structure of the building.

2) As this recent comment suggests, the other orgs seem to be running the show, not the Estonian House Board. This is unfortunate, since the EH representatives receive all the flack at their AGMs, while the other orgs remain relatively unscathed. It is interesting that the public has not raised EH concerns at the AGMs of these other organizations -- for which I'm sure the other boards are grateful.

3) Where is the money coming from for the whole project? Very poor, poor communications efforts on the part of all 4 orgs about the final plans. Without a transparent plan fairly early on in the process, the public is left thinking that there is no plan. The 4orgs have lost many funders in the process, since potential funders don't have faith in the organizers to pull off this project completely and effectively.

Question regarding this extend Esto complex at Madison and Bloor: do we know how long Tartu College will be around? It may be up to the whim of Jaan Meri who is in his retirement years. Will VEMU be built? I know that the archivist had hoped that a cornner-stone would have been laid years ago. I have not heard of a date as to when construction will begin. If any reader knows, please inform the public by posting the date here. Could it be that VEMU will remain nothing more than a dream?

The community has lost the positive vibe and excitement for this project. This is what drives fundraising campaigns.
Meiusi quotes Yogi Berra...08 Sep 2017 10:07
....and we can see why: both like to vapour!
"When you come to a fork in the road, take it!"
msaagi@rogers.com13 Sep 2017 20:37
Einarile
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