Pigs must be flying

How one building’s twisted history embodies the problems facing Jerusalem development.

By JOEL HABER
October 27, 2016 18:21
Jerusalem buildings

The site today, under excavation. (photo credit: MARC ISRAEL SELLEM)

 
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The excavation equipment began tearing into the vacant building on the corner of King George and Harav Avida Streets a few weeks ago. Amid the sounds of growling machinery and stones crashing to the ground, one could almost hear another sound: Jerusalem herself exclaiming, “Finally!” Vacant for a quarter of a century, the building that formerly housed the regional offices of Solel Boneh (the construction arm of the Histadrut labor federation) had become better known as a graffiti-covered eyesore, residence of homeless squatters and shortterm flophouse for drug addicts. Following its sale in the late 1980s to private developers from the US, critics began calling the building “the Big Pig,” seeing it as symbolizing the country’s shift from its socialist roots into capitalistic greed.

But if the building’s current developers have had control of the building for nearly 30 years, the obvious question is, “What took so long?” As this project takes off, an examination of the numerous delays and problems it encountered highlights the many problems facing real-estate development in Jerusalem today.

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