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Helsinki cancels plans to sell two classic kiosks in Kallio and Käpylä

The City of Helsinki announces that it will not be going through with its plans to sell two kiosks to the highest bidders after an onslaught of public sentiment opposing the measures. The kiosks are a staple of Helsinki architecture and culture.

Karhupuiston lippakioskilla tulevaisuus huolettaa.
The Karhupuisto kiosk, which the city of Helsinki will not sell as of yet. Image: Yle

The Helsinki Real Estate Department has cancelled its plans to sell off two fully operational kiosks in Kallio and Käpylä following public outcry and a petition opposing the sales. The department will be recommending that its council allow the kiosks to remain in operation on a rental basis.

The Real Estate Department has long prepared for the sale of a total of twelve wooden Helsinki kiosks. Built in the 1940s and 50s and known as lippakioskit in Finnish, they are considered a staple of the city's culture and architecture, as are the cafés that entrepreneurs operate in them.

"It seems, based on public feeling, that these kiosks [in Kallio and Käpylä] are exceptionally important to people living in the respective areas," vice chair of the real estate council and Greens MP Jasmin Hamid said in Helsingin Sanomat. "Citizens' voices have been heard."

An official petition against the selling of the LGBT-friendly Karhupuisto kiosk gathered 2,654 signatures and attracted a residents' support concert in September. And on social media people were even ready to use crowdfunding to purchase the Käpylä kiosk and rent it back to the entrepreneur at a nominal price.

No campaigns were mounted for the other kiosks the city plans to sell for savings.

Sale could help develop kiosks?

City council member Tuomas Rantanen from the Greens Party says that politically the cancellation has been under consideration for some time.

"The city has reacted to the fact that these two specific kiosks have helped vitalise their respective areas," he says.

Rantanen says he is content with the city's revised plan, but that selling the kiosks in future could still be a good idea.

"If we sold the kiosks off at a negotiated price the operators could better commit to developing them," he suggests.

Rantanen says the fate of the other ten kiosks to be sold, which either attract less customers or do not have businesses operating in conjunction with them, should be appraised one by one.

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