City Hall upgrade on hold - again

Despite a huge investment of employee hours and millions of shekels, planned renovations to Tel Aviv's City Hall can't seem to get off the ground.

Plans have been approved, permits have been issued and millions of shekels have already been spent on architects, but the renovations to Tel Aviv's City Hall building are being put on hold yet again, reports City planners have reportedly frozen the plans indefinitely after realizing that it was "a mistake even to begin messing around" with the old building, and that the entire project needs to be rethought. According to the report, the City Hall renovation project began more than three years ago and has already seen three changes in planning teams and millions of shekels spent in architectural fees. The current plans call for the addition of several stories and an observation deck to the old building, the upgrading of existing stories and the renovation of the building's façade. But an unidentified senior municipal source said it seemed that city planners were starting to realize that the project was a mistake, and had put the plans on hold. "They created an entire department to be responsible for the renovations… and threw in a sea of money, tens of millions of shekels, that so far has not brought any return," the source said. "The infrastructure is old and rotten and it was a mistake even to begin messing around with an old building." The source said the planners had belatedly realized that the foundations of the building were not strong enough to support the addition of extra stories, and that some of the walls were covered in asbestos sheeting that was difficult and dangerous to take apart. A municipal spokesman responded that the renovation project was "in the process of advanced examination" as a result of lessons learned from other municipal renovation projects and also as a result of "systemic needs." The report pointed out that Deputy Mayor and Greens faction leader Pe'er Visner long ago proposed building a new City Hall building nearby that would cater for all the city's administrative functions and provide underground parking for employees, while pulling down the old building and putting the municipal library in its place.