Bad news on their doorstep

Jaffa Road store owners protest a tram station that blocks their entrance.

The Ring 311 (photo credit: Gil Zohar)
The Ring 311
(photo credit: Gil Zohar)
After years of construction on the light rail interrupting business at their Jaffa Road jewelry store The Ring, Bob and Hanna Faber now face an even bigger impediment. CityPass is building a tram station that blocks their entrance.
On July 18, workers for the international consortium building the 13.8 km. light rail line placed two steel posts for a station in front of the Fabers’ key money shop facing Safra Square in a historic building known as the Armenian Block. Due to the relative narrowness of the sidewalk, the posts were positioned almost adjoining the store the couple has operated since 1983.
When the roof is placed atop the tram stop, it will prevent the husband and wife jewelers from opening their door and the metal bars that protect their display window, as well as obscuring their jewelry store’s sign.
“They misled us from the beginning. They didn’t tell us the tram station would be 40 cm. from my door and front window. I told them I don’t want a station here.
It would ruin my business. ‘You don’t have a choice’ is what they told us,” fumes Bob Faber.
“They can block the alley,” Hanna says, pointing to Shushan Street beside their store. “They don’t have to block our business.” The King George station was placed in front of Yavetz Alley, she suggests hopefully.
The same could be done here.
David Soussana, the director of the Municipal Art Gallery next door to The Ring, faces a similar problem.
He calls the placement of the tram station “the antithesis of developing the city. It’s absurd and a catastrophe.”
Ironically, Soussana’s business card identifies him as an “Adviser, Art & Design, Municipality of Jerusalem.”
Municipal spokesman Stephan Miller dismisses the Faber’s concern. “Of course a solution will be found for the door opening,” he said. “But let’s not forget the tremendous business opportunity of having thousands of light rail riders at your door.”
The Fabers have hired attorney Tal Lipper to try to get the tram stop moved. Lipper also represents a group of 13 Jaffa Road businessmen who have filed a NIS 5.3 million class action suit seeking damages for lost income caused by the light rail construction. The case is slated to be heard in September in the Jerusalem District Court. The light rail is due to begin commercial operations on April 7, 2011.
Each of the Red Line’s 24 stations will comprise two covered stops in both directions, each measuring 3.2 meters, with a gap in between them. That space can be slightly adjusted to align with the front and rear of the trams.
The CityPass consortium comprises three publicly traded Israeli companies – Ashtrom Properties Ltd.
(27.5 percent), Polar Investments Ltd. (27.5%) and Harel Insurance Investments and Financial Services Ltd. (20%), as well as two French companies – Alstom SA (20%) and Veolia Environnement SA (5%).