Former fortress island of Rysäkari off Helsinki is to be turned into tourist destination
No longer in military use, the islet of Rysäkari was recently sold to entrepreneur Tom Kaisla
By Antti Manninen
The Defence Forces have withdrawn from the rocky islet of Rysäkari off the coast of Helsinki, and the plan is to build on the former fortress island a restaurant, a conference centre, and some cottages.
”Next summer, there will have to be construction work done before any groups of guests can be received”, comments Tom Kaisla, the new owner of the island.
Kaisla is the owner and CEO of the staffing company Eilakaisla, a family enterprise in Helsinki.
The Defence Forces relinquished the island last year, after which the property asset manager Senate Properties, an enterprise operating under the Ministry of Finance, put Rysäkari up for sale.
Rysäkarin linnake, a company set up by Kaisla, won the tender round.
The sales contract is to be signed before Christmas.
Kaisla is not willing to disclose the purchase price. However, he is speaking of millions of euros. ”In addition, the renovation of old buildings will cost millions of euros, too”, he says.
A few rundown historic buildings and fortress equipment, which are protected under the Finnish Antiquities Act, remain on the roughly 10-hectare island.
The plan is to renovate the former Officers’ House and turn it into a banqueting restaurant for private groups, open only on request.
According to Kaisla’s plans, a new building providing space for around twenty hotel rooms and a conference centre will also be constructed on the island, followed by a number of rental cottages.
Last week, Kaisla arranged an excursion to Rysäkari for officials responsible for city planning and environmental issues.
”The aim is to get started with exceptional permits. Hopefully, all documents will be completed in the course of the winter so that the construction work can be launched in the spring”, Kaisla reports.
The island is also to be re-zoned, but the preparation of re-zoning will take somewhat longer.
”The renovations of the fire control tower, mine casements, and mine-storage buildings will provide work for many years. The plan is also to set up an exhibition depicting the coastal artillery”, Kaisla reports.
The island of Rysäkari is located slightly less than 10 kilometres south of Helsinki’s Market Square, and it takes about 15 minutes to go there by boat.
The Rysäkari naval fort southwest of Lauttasaari was constructed during the First World War.
The late-edition tabloid Ilta-Sanomat was the first to report that Tom Kaisla would become the new owner of Rysäkari.
Helsingin Sanomat / First published in print 16.12.2011
Previously in HS International Edition:
Tight money keeps former military islands off Helsinki off-limits to public (19.12.2011)
Defence Forces to withdraw from four islands off Helsinki (6.10.2008)
A brief description of Rysäkari on Wikipedia
ANTTI MANNINEN / Helsingin Sanomat