Old hotel gets green light for new use

The council's plan would see the fa?ade and original features of the historic building preserved and restored as a hotel.

After protracted discussions, the Interior Ministry's National Planning and Construction Council has approved redeveloping the old Ambassador Hotel on the Tel Aviv beachfront as a mixed hotel and residential complex, reports www.local.co.il. The council's plan would see the façade and original features of the historic building preserved and restored as a hotel, while allowing for the construction of an 88-meter residential tower behind it, the same height as the neighboring Opera Tower. According to the report, the old hotel is situated in a prized location, on the corner of Hayarkon and Allenby streets, but currently contains a number of old, low-rise apartments, most of them neglected and abandoned. A group of builders proposed redeveloping the site as a 120-room hotel and 25-story residential complex while preserving the historic façade, but those plans were stymied by existing Tourism Ministry policy that opposes the mixed use of buildings on the seafront, and by the National Committee for the Preservation of the Beach Environment's ruling in December 2007 that the site should be reserved for hotel purposes only. The builders appealed against the decision to the National Planning and Construction Council, and last week a senior Tourism Ministry official told the council that an exemption to the ministry's stance against mixed-use buildings was justified because of the "special circumstances" surrounding the hotel. The report said the council has now agreed to allow the hotel's redevelopment for mixed uses, on condition that 60 percent of the new complex be a hotel that faces the sea, and that 40 percent of it be residential and be placed at the back of the structure. The council said that this would enable the hotel section to receive automatic building approval, while an application for a building permit for the residential section could be issued and could go through the required process. The council said that if the residential section did not receive a building permit within three years, the building should revert to being a hotel only.