While the big names behind Jerusalem’s luxurious Holyland housing project awaited trial in what is being labeled “one of the worst corruption cases ever,” the complex itself – by far one of the capital’s most lavish and expensive – sat quietly in the moonlight above Malha Mall and Teddy Stadium on Wednesday night, as a handful of residents trickled in and out.
Home to some of Jerusalem’s top businessmen and lawyers, the sprawling private neighborhood, which is made up of a series of multi-story buildings holding 340 housing units along with the “Holyland Tower” – a more than 30-story, 140-unit high-rise that is awaiting completion – the entire “Holyland Park” is a symbol of affluence, complete with an underground parking garage stocked with shiny luxury cars.
Described by developers as “the peak of Jerusalem’s luxury life,” a sign at the entrance to the complex reads, “Holyland Park – a private neighborhood for people like you.”
Equipped with automatic glass doors and keypad entry systems, the lobbies of the Holyland buildings also include marble floors, flowing fountains of water and assorted replicas of fine artwork on the walls.
And although the corruption case against the Holy Land’s proprietors and their associates led the nightly news on Wednesday, residents of the opulent complex were mostly mum when it came to the details.
“I heard it on the news tonight, but we obviously knew nothing about these allegations,” a middle-aged resident who was walking outside one of the buildings told The Jerusalem Post on Wednesday.
“I moved here with my wife about a year ago, and it’s been lovely,” he added. “It’s a quiet area, the view is spectacular, and we always wanted to live in a place like this.”
While the man, who declined to give his name, said that he didn’t expect any fallout from the legal proceedings to affect daily life at the complex, he said the allegations surrounding the Holyland’s owners were “shameful, if they are true.”
Other residents told the Post that many of the buildings’ residents were French and American olim and that despite a recent upswing in sales, many of the apartments were still empty.
In February, reports surfaced that Holyland Park Ltd., the development company behind the residential project, had not met its sales target for the housing complex, which is set to include some 1000 units when completed.
The reports were based on filings by Kardan Israel Ltd., which owns 30 percent of the development through its subsidiary Kardan Real Estate Initiative and Development Ltd.
In a park across the street from the complex on Wednesday night, next to the Ramat Sharet neighborhood, two teenage girls, Inbal and Noa, said that residents in the neighborhoods surrounding the Holyland development resented the complex as it had “destroyed the view.”
“We used to be able to see all of Jerusalem from our homes,” said
Inbal. “But they destroyed the view,” she added, gesturing at the
hulking buildings across the road.
“Everyone hates them,” Noa
said of the large buildings. “People always complain about the huge
buildings that went up here. It used to be nothing but trees and grass.”
the girls spoke of the buildings’ residents as movie stars, and lightly
fawned over the opportunities they had to go inside.
“I have a
friend who lives there,” said Inbal. “And I babysat for a family there
once. Everyone who lives there is a millionaire, they’re not just