Interior Ministry approves 12 skyscrapers for J'lem

Capital city says that the major construction project could provide 40,000 jobs.

By MELANIE LIDMAN
August 14, 2012 04:15
2 minute read.
Plans for Jerusalem skyscrapers.

Plans for Jerusalem skyscrapers 390. (photo credit: Jerusalem Municipality)

The Interior Ministry gave its initial stamp of approval to a major construction plan for the entrance to the city that will completely change the capital’s skyline with the addition of 12 skyscrapers.

The project includes a number of 33-story and 24- story buildings that will be a mix of government offices, private businesses, and residential apartments.

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One 24-story tower will be a 2,000-room hotel. The Foreign Ministry and other government offices will occupy two 24-story towers, and at least one 24-story tower will be residential.

The municipality’s Local Building and Planning Committee approved the project last week. The public now has 60 days to file objections to the project before it will be reexamined by the Interior Ministry’s District Committee for final approval.

The renewal project is meant to reinvigorate Jerusalem’s struggling economy by attracting dozens of companies to the capital.

The municipality estimates that the 1 million square meters of office space will provide approximately 40,000 office jobs.

The city entrance is set to be a major transportation hub once the high-speed train from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem is finished; this is scheduled for 2017. The light rail and the central bus station are also located in the same area.

Shazar Boulevard, which runs parallel to Jaffa Road, will be converted to a twolevel roadway, with vehicle lanes and 1,300 parking spots on the lower level and pedestrian walkways and a second light-rail line on the upper level.

The Local Committee approved the project with only one abstention. Opposition head Pepe Alalu (Meretz) said that while he generally supports the project, he is concerned that there is not enough housing and that the buildings are too high.

“It could be that we’re succeeding with employment and housing, but we’re destroying the nature of Jerusalem,” he said.

Alalu said he was worried that the “block of concrete” that people see as they enter the city would be an inappropriate introduction to the capital, which has maintained the style of low, stone buildings that follow the contour of the hills.

“When there are projects like this, especially like Holyland, people are afraid to say no,” Alalu said on Monday.

“They think, ‘What, like we’d be against development of Jerusalem?’ So they’re quiet. But there are ways we can be more successful.”

Despite Alalu’s opposition last week, the project moved on to the District Committee on Monday. If the project receives final approval from the Interior Ministry after the 60-day waiting period, construction could begin within a year.

The project was designed by Fahri Zafrir Architects, responsible for public complexes in Tel Aviv, Eilat, Bat Yam, and the Ramat Rahel enclave within south Jerusalem.


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