Heartbreak hotels and other stories

Battles waged by German Colony residents.

Jerusalem pool 311 (photo credit: Liat Collins)
Jerusalem pool 311
(photo credit: Liat Collins)
The Smadar movie theater
In March 2009, the quick response of the residents’ committee to the owner’s plan to sell the Smadar property to real estate developers stopped the project in its tracks. The Ginot Ha’ir council held a large meeting of local and neighboring residents and obtained the firm support of the deputy mayor in charge of culture, Pepe Alalu and the deputy mayor in charge of planning and environment, Naomi Tsur. They ultimately gained the support of Mayor Nir Barkat as well.
Bottom line: The building has been approved for preservation by the planning and construction committee, which has also ruled that it cannot be sold before October 2010, when the master plan for the neighborhood should be ready and approved. In any case, the building will not be allowed to serve any purpose other than a theater. 
The restaurant on Emile Zola
The residents committee of the German Colony – once again with the logistical support of the Ginot Ha’ir local council – prevented a restaurant from being opened on Rehov Emile Zola 4. In February, a campaign led by the residents forced the owner to give up his plan, also following a decision of the local Planning and Construction Committee, headed by Deputy Mayor Kobi Kahlon, to change the use of the building from housing to business. The residents claimed that only on Emek Refaim should restaurants and other commercial enterprises be allowed, while the side streets should be reserved for residential purposes.
The Jerusalem Pool
In 2009, news spread that the owners of the Jerusalem Pool property – Moshav Shoresh and the Ela brothers  – were going to close the pool and sell the property to a real estate developer to build high-rise apartment buildings. The hastily formed Committee to Save the Jerusalem Pool, set up by frequent poolgoers, managed – at least temporarily – to stop the project.
But this dispute is far from being over, and it is too early to say whether  the residents will be successful in the long run. So far, the swimming pool is scheduled to remain open until the end of the summer season, and Mayor Nir Barkat has agreed to support the cost of representing the issue in court. The idea is to have the property serve the same kind of community service – i.e., a swimming pool – and thus prevent it, even if it is sold, from becoming another high-end apartment complex that remains uninhabited most of the year and depriving the residents of a public pool.
The Four Seasons Hotel
The Four Seasons Hotel project, planned to be opposite the ColonyHotel, was presented for the first time in 1998. Strong opposition byresidents of the neighborhood, residents of other neighborhoods and thesupport of the local council and Bimkom – Planners for Planning Rights,managed to stop the project, as well as suggest several changes.
The first major achievement in July 2007 was the District Court’sdecision to cancel the housing part of the project – about 80 luxuryapartments.
The second one was the local administrative court’s ruling to havefewer stories in the main building (down from 14 to seven, includingthree underground) and changes in the façade of the main buildingaccording to the residents’ requests.
In July 2008, the developers submitted an amended plan, which was alsorejected. In the next few months, they will submit a revised plan.