Controversial millionaire businessman and radio talk show host Shmuel Flatto-Sharon has succeeded where government agencies have failed, and managed to persuade about 150 Arab families to vacate the rundown and crime-ridden Pardess Daka neighborhood in the heart of Jaffa by offering them $250,000 each, reports Yediot Tel Aviv. Flatto-Sharon heads a group of investors who plan to build 1,500 residential units in 10 and 22-storey buildings in the desirably located neighborhood. According to the report, the Tel Aviv Municipality has long tried to persuade the families to leave the neighborhood, which was created more than 100 years ago and is in a rundown state with dilapidated housing, open sewage pools, floods in winter and a high crime rate. Yet despite its poor conditions, the area itself has come to be considered highly desirable real estate for potential development, and the families have refused all the city's offers until now. Flatto-Sharon, who left his native France in the 1970s after being indicted on fraud charges and served a brief stint as a Knesset member, reportedly decided that a reasonable financial offer was the only way to get hold of the land. He assembled a group of investors who offered each family $250,000 - enough to buy a three- or four-room apartment in south Tel Aviv - and the families accepted. The group's plans for 1,500 units in the area will now need to obtain local planning approval.

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