german colony 311.
(photo credit: Melanie Lidman)
Residents hoping to illustrate the true size of a proposed hotel in Jerusalem’s
German Colony released giant helium balloons on Sunday afternoon, in an effort
to show the neighborhood how tall 34 meters looks in relation to the rest of the
buildings in the area.
Around 75 residents took part in a protest against
the proposed eight-story Colony Hotel, which is in the planning process for the
lot at the intersection of Derech Beit Lechem and Rehov Emek Refaim.
rally, organized by the Community Council, was built from a special partnership
between residents and the Armenian Church, whose Saint Gregory Church may be
turned into an events hall if the plan goes forward. The event featured local
musicians and a performance by an Armenian chanting choir.
“It’s simply a
monstrosity in the heart of the neighborhood,” said Yossi Saidov, a local
resident and a media adviser to the council.
Residents were careful to
stress that they are not against tourism and hotels in the neighborhood, but
rather the size of the project, which would tower over the Templer-style stone
buildings in the area.
“We simply want them to build according to the
style of the Colony,” resident Ronit Lombrozo said.
The project, which is
to include a 200-room hotel, an events hall and a detached lobby with high-end
jewelry stores, has already been approved by the Local Planning and Building
On September 16, the proposal goes before the District
Planning and Building Committee, which is under the direction of the Interior
Ministry. The project is to be implemented by Morad Zamir
Part of the plan, according to community organizers, is to
evict the Armenians from the Saint Gregory Church and turn it into a community
center or events hall. The church holds services once a week.
have been here for more than 60 years, and we’re not giving up on our church,”
said Father Koryoun, a priest who has been in Israel for 15 years.
work until the end to ensure that the church will continue as a house of prayer,
because according to the Armenian religion the church is a holy place and if
they use it in a nonreligious way, it is a desecration of a holy
Koryoun noted that because of previous protests, the contractor
had scrapped an earlier plan to demolish the house of an Armenian family
same lot. The Community Council has had other successes – last year the
construction of a 14- story hotel at the same intersection was postponed
Unfortunately, the wind and the trees conspired against
Sunday’s balloons, which were raised to a height of 20 meters before
string became tangled in branches and released the balloons into a
“We hope that the Colony Hotel will fly away, just like the
balloons!” improvised Ora Simchovitz, a local who ran the event.
no complaints against the contractor; he’s just doing his job,”
The Jerusalem Post.
“We’re just trying to pressure the municipalities and
the committees to do their job to save this neighborhood. This
brings tourists and people to live here because of the way it looks.
a big apartment building across the street, but that’s OK because it’s
“That’s what we want: the trees to be higher than the
building. Here, you walk on the streets and when people say ‘Shabbat
they answer you. That’s what we want to save – the look and spirit of
neighborhood. The spirit of a place is very delicate. With one
hotel, you can ruin it,” Simchovitz said.