A project offering homeowners a private view of the lowest place on Earth was officially launched this week, seeking to bolster the population in the Dead Sea communities. The project, which has received final state approval after years of study and planning, will see the private construction of 140 two-story homes in the southern Dead Sea community of Neveh Zohar. In an area that relies heavily on tourism, the new homeowners, who need to be full-time residents, will be allowed to build three to four bungalows around their homes for tourists, Dov Litvinoff, chairman of the Tamar Dead Sea Regional Council, said during a cornerstone-laying ceremony on Tuesday. Priority would be given to young couples with children in an effort to rejuvenate Neveh Zohar and fill its newly-constructed regional school, which has just 90 pupils. The project, dubbed by locals as "Zionism of the 21st century," will see the construction of 80 homes in the first phase, followed, depending on the success of the first phase, by another 60, all on 646-dunams (64.6 hectares) of barren land next to the Dead Sea. The plots, which range from 300 to 500 square meters, cost NIS 210,000-NIS 450,000, based on size and location, with the total cost of building a home in the community expected to start at NIS 850,000 and average around NIS 1 million, officials said. Bids for the first stage of the construction plan must be submitted to the Israel Lands Administration by December 21, and are subject to approval by Neveh Zohar's local council. "We are not interested in people buying for an investment or looking for a vacation home," Litvinoff said. "Our purpose is to attract young couples who want to build their lives here." Established in 1964, the quiet, sun-drenched community, located just south of the Dead Sea hotel strip in Ein Bokek, today encompasses 60 dilapidated homes, with most of the 30 families living there working in the tourism industry. The new school was inaugurated last year, and there are plans to construct a youth hostel nearby. The housing project is to also see the creation of an artificial lagoon, a hi-tech center, a country club and a commercial center.