Barkat presents first master plan for Jerusalem in 50 years

Proposal would see capital become the greenest city in the nation.

barkat waves 248 AJ (photo credit: Ariel Jerozolimski)
barkat waves 248 AJ
(photo credit: Ariel Jerozolimski)
Jerusalem Mayor Nir Barkat on Tuesday presented a city master plan for the next two decades that envisions the capital becoming the greenest city in Israel, and includes affordable housing for young residents, thousands of new apartments for Arab residents of the eastern neighborhoods, and the expansion of tourism and employment. The final draft, nearly a decade in the making, is the first municipal plan for the city in half a century. It was presented on Tuesday to a Interior Ministry planning committee for review and for discussion of any objections that may be submitted. It is not clear how long the process will take. It has been put forward after tens of thousands of young Israelis left the city over the last quarter century in search of better jobs and cheaper housing. "The master plan is an important component of a strategic plan for the city for years to come," Barkat said in a statement. "Since taking office, we have worked diligently to adjust the planning that was already in process to reflect our vision to stop the negative migration of residents from the city and to accelerate economic development in the coming years." The plan would enable young people, including university students, to buy or rent apartments at affordable prices in a city where housing prices have skyrocketed over the last decade as a result of a severe housing crunch, with large building projects slated to designated for that purpose, the city said. Also envisioned is the construction of 13,550 apartments for Arab residents of east Jerusalem. This will take some time, because of the current lack of zoning and development plans; the start of construction on 70 percent of the flats will be okayed by 2030. Most of the new flats will be in the east Jerusalem neighborhoods of A-Tur (1,500 units), Beit Hanina-Shuafat (2,500 units), Tel Adesa (2,000 units) and Jabel Mukabar (2,500 units). One-third of the city's 750,000 residents are Arabs. The municipal proposal calls for five parks around the city, hi-tech and tourist complexes, and the conservation and preservation of historic buildings. The plan envisions the creation of 150,000 new jobs in hi-tech, higher education, bio-tech and other areas in four new industrial zones, with the Givat Shaul industrial zone slated to be expanded for technological colleges and job training centers for the haredi community.