What’s on the table?

German Colony House 311 (photo credit: .)
German Colony House 311
(photo credit: .)
It all started about 10 years ago, when the Jerusalem Development Authority published a tender to sell the Templer complex at the entrance of Rehov Emek Refaim. The idea was to add this structure to a vast program of transforming landmark buildings into hotels.
The project presented by the developers, Morad Zamir, includes a large main building and two smaller structures, which would overshadow the two historical buildings of Beit Ha’am and the Armenian Church (which is not inhabited and holds religious services once a week).
According to Chava Teperberg, head of the residents’ committee against the project, the plan as presented to the District Planning Committee will turn the two historical structures, that have been slated for preservation, into part of the hotel, thus depriving the residents of the right to use it as a public space (for cultural events in the neighborhood).
Another issue is the dimensions of the project. Originally, the plotwas sold as 300 square meters for tourist purposes only, whereas todayin the project submitted it has jumped to a 7,000-sq. m structure. Inaddition, part of the project submitted is for housing, a use notincluded or permitted according to the original master plan of the area.
“If this reminds anybody of the Holyland project, it is not acoincidence,” explained Teperberg at the Friday morning gathering onEmek Refaim. “This is very much the same kind of evolution of a touristproject [hotels] that suddenly turns into luxury housing, depriving thepublic of any access to the buildings that should serve us, theresidents.”
So far, the residents of the German Colony, with the support of theGinot Ha’ir local council, have submitted 1,000 objections which,according to the law, will have to be presented and debated by thecommittee. It is worth mentioning that the committee rejected theproject in 2006 and asked the developer to make substantial changes infavor of the residents’ needs. However, the new plan is stillconsidered inappropriate for the neighborhood by the residents’committee.