OFER BERKOVITCH 370.
(photo credit: Melanie Lidman)
The elegant, Ottoman-era train station in the capital’s German Colony
neighborhood will soon be the center of an entertainment and cultural revolution
in the capital, complete with restaurants, bars, a farmers market, galleries and
concert space, Jerusalem Mayor Nir Barkat announced Tuesday.
station complex is expected to open in April. Avi Murdoch, a contractor who
helped transform the Neveh Tzedek train station in Tel Aviv, designed the
renovations for Jerusalem’s train station, which will be called “First
The plan will preserve as much as possible of the old building,
including some of the graffiti from the past decade when the train station was
abandoned and neglected. In the courtyard, freestanding structures built to look
like train carriages will host small pubs and cafes.
The 0.7-hectare (1.7
acre) complex will have seven restaurants, including two from celebrity chef
Moshe Segev, four ice cream or coffee stands, a 300-sq.m. gallery, a boutique
market and concert space – with the ability to seat 2,000 people in its
restaurants and cafes. During the summer, there will also be areas for outdoor
movies and 30 moveable carts will feature a market set to change daily. Once a
week, the carts will sell organic produce straight from southern farmers; on
another day, the carts will house a handicraft market.
The complex has
drawn the ire of the haredi community because some of the restaurants and cafes
will be open on Shabbat.
“We are not expecting any pressure [about being
open on Shabbat],” said Murdoch, who also lives in the
neighborhood. “This was built at the request of the
Barkat said the train station will not change the Jerusalem
status quo of public areas and buildings remaining closed on
“This isn’t closing [on Shabbat] because this is a private area
and it is the decision of the owner,” the mayor said. “As a public body,
we cannot force anyone to stay open or closed on Shabbat.”
Awakening director Ofer Berkovitch is overseeing the development of First Stop
as its strategic and content manager. He believes that offering young people
choices for entertainment and leisure will encourage more of them to stay in the
With its imposing wooden doors, stained glass windows and carved
stone details, the building still retains the elegance of early 20th-century
rail travel, combining Jerusalem’s unique history with a modern
Isaac Shweky, head of the Council for the Preservation of Historic
Sites, concurs. He gave his blessing to the project, which he called “a perfect
fit of development and preservation.”