Holyland still on hold 521.
(photo credit: Marc Israel Sellem)
In addition to the corruption scandal that recently engulfed former prime
minister Ehud Olmert, former Jerusalem mayor Uri Lupolianski and 11 others, the
Holyland apartments have drawn criticism for their garish design visible from
nearly every location in the capital.
On Monday, the Interior Ministry
said the Holyland complex, which has only finished building half of the original
project, will be drastically reduced in size.
The District Planning and
Building Committee approved an alternative plan for the area, which greatly
diminished the number of building permits that will be issued. With the change,
the tallest new buildings will be 18 stories high, unlike the 33-story high-rise
that already towers over the ridge.
The Holyland complex began the
planning process in 1990 as an area for apartments and hotels. It was originally
the site of the Holyland Hotel, but went through a series of four different
projects to turn it into residential area.
The last project to be
approved, whose corruption was discovered in April 2010, called for 16
buildings, including two 33-story apartment buildings. Only eight of the
buildings have been built.
The District Committee began examining new
suggestions for the undeveloped area in April 2011.
The new plan, which
is being designed by the Yair Architectural Firm, will include hotels in
addition to apartments.
Between 1994 and 2007, businessman Hillel Cherny,
who owned rights to the land used in the Holyland project, allegedly
collaborated with Jerusalem entrepreneur Meir Rabin to provide financial and
other benefits to those officials responsible for promoting construction and
planning processes, in return for advancing their real estate project.
1999, after bribing officials, most of the land was rezoned from hotel to
residential use. The indictment charges that between 2003 and 2007, millions of
shekels were given in bribes to a long list of elected and public officials in
the Jerusalem Municipality to continue to promote the project.Joanna
Paraszczuk contributed to this report.