Getting on with the game

Complaints are being voiced in various parts of the city where historic buildings, public parks are being destroyed to make way for high-rise edifices.

The Shmil at the Lab 521 (photo credit: Sarah Levin)
The Shmil at the Lab 521
(photo credit: Sarah Levin)
■ DISAPPOINTED THOUGH he is by the poor performance of Beitar Jerusalem, Russian oligarch Arkadi Gaydamak, who returned to Israel as promised to stand trial for money laundering, says that he is not yet prepared to sell out, and will retain ownership of the team for at least another season. Gaydamak is obviously still interested in the team, and since his return has attended some of its matches. Beitar’s coach Uri Malmilian, whose days with the team were considered to be numbered, resigned on Monday of this week.
■ ALTHOUGH THERE was no shortage of clientele, business at Shmil, the popular bistro in Erel Margalit’s The Lab complex in part of the old railway station, has ceased to function. Shmil Holland, while completing a doctoral thesis in history, was working as a guide for Yad Ben-Zvi, and loved to take groups through the back alleys of Jerusalem, where he and they could discover culinary delights that were not on the menus of most restaurants. His love for cooking led him into catering, which is how he met Margalit, a founder and managing partner of Jerusalem Venture Partners. When Margalit set up The Lab, he invited Holland to open a restaurant there in partnership with JVP. The restaurant has been closed for most of this month to the frustration of several patrons, who specially came out of their way to eat there.
It’s not quite as accessible as all the eateries in Emek Refaim. JVP has been in contact with various people who are eager to rent the now vacant premises. It is not yet known whether the new guys on the block will continue to run the premises as a restaurant or whether they will operate a venture of a different kind.
■ COMPLAINTS ARE being voiced in various parts of the city where historic buildings and public parks are being destroyed to make way for high-rise edifices. Surprisingly, there hasn’t been a peep out of the Prime Minister’s Office about the residential building that was constructed on Rehov Balfour, directly opposite the side entrance to the Prime Minister’s Residence.
The new building was originally three stories. Then all of a sudden, when it looked as if it had been completed and had been standing empty for several weeks, scaffolding went up for a fourth floor, and before anyone had time to get used to the idea of a high rise dwelling near the corner of Balfour and Aza streets, scaffolding went up for a fifth floor. As it is, the blinds in the Netanyahu household have been permanently closed ever since the construction of the third floor. Whoever lives in the fourth and fifth floors will have a clear view of everything that goes on behind the high fence and the actual house of the Prime Minister’s Residence.
Aside from the invasion of privacy vis-a-vis Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu and his immediate family, there are also security considerations.
Getting a license for a three-story complex on that particular site was already a feat. Yet another story was a miracle, if it wasn’t a case of palm greasing. Heaven only knows how a permit was secured for a fifth story. Whoever moves into that building will not be a happy camper, because the prime minister’s heavily armed security detail tends to congregate just outside, and most security maneuvers are conducted precisely in that part of the street.
The prime minister’s neighbors on both Rehov Balfour and Rehov Smolenskin are frequently discomforted by security exercises, whether it be the closing off of a grille door thereby reducing pedestrian access to the other side of the street, or serious anti-assault action conducted around the residence behind blanketed areas. That’s what happened on Thursday of last week, and according to a notice distributed to residents of both streets by the security division in the Prime Minister’s Office, will continue to occur every Thursday afternoon between the hours of 2 and 7 p.m. up to and including February 24. By the way, that doesn’t entitle anyone to a discount on the arnona.