Finance Minister Yair Lapid, Construction and Housing Minister Uri Ariel, and
Transportation Ministry director-general Ettie Itzhak on Wednesday signed an
agreement to close Tel Aviv’s Sde Dov Airport and replace it with
“After decades, we’ve made the historic decision to allocate the
resources to clear the airport,” Lapid said.
The Israel Lands
Administration will invest NIS 230 million to build a replacement airport at
Ben-Gurion Airport by June 2016, two years earlier than originally
The historic airport, located on a prime strip of real estate
along the sea between Tel Aviv’s Yarkon River, its swanky Ramat Aviv
neighborhood, and the booming luxury apartments sprouting up in the city’s
north, was built in the late 1930s and is used for both short commercial flights
and as an Israel Air Force base.
The land cleared will be used to develop
new buildings, which will contain 16,000 housing units, commercial space and
hotels. With the airport gone, restrictions on building height in the area will
be relaxed, clearing the way for permits for another 6,800 housing
“This is the largest land reserve in the Gush Dan region, which
will be used to build thousands of housing units, to the benefit of young
couples,” Ariel said, adding that the Israel Lands Administration was expected
to expedite the planning process.
“Our goal is to hit the target dates or
even move them up as part of the overall policy of accelerating building in
high-demand areas,” he said.
Lapid situated the move as part of a larger
plan on housing, and praised the Tel Aviv Municipality for its help, saying that
local cooperation was “more rare than you might think.”
“One of the open
secrets about housing is that in many cities in high-demand areas, mayors object
– sometimes vocally, usually behind the scenes – to building smaller apartments
of three to four rooms, which are in the highest demand,” the finance minister
The reason, he said, was they produced less property
Also on Wednesday, the Housing Ministry announced a significant drop
in the price of housing for the second quarter of 2013. The prices of new homes
fell 10.5 percent in real terms, while second-hand home prices fell 1.5 percent
from the previous quarter.
According to the ministry, the drop
represented a correction to inflated prices, but may have also resulted from the
real estate market believing that the government would take serious steps to
reform the market. The improving international economy, however, may have also
played a role in the relative attractiveness of investing in Israeli housing.
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