An eyesore in Netanya

Residents insist the city address the issue of the shuttered Orly Hotel, which has stood empty for seven years.

Orly Hotel, Netanya (photo credit: GOOGLE STREET VIEW)
Orly Hotel, Netanya
(photo credit: GOOGLE STREET VIEW)
Amid all the natural beauty, all is not rosy in Netanya. There are residents who say that their streets have been overlooked, and these people are not sitting by quietly waiting for things to change.
Gene Portnoi and Alan Weber, residents of Hama’apilim Street, recently wrote a letter to The Jerusalem Post with attached photos of the empty Orly Hotel, located on their street, which has been closed for the past seven years and is in a sad state of deterioration. They noted that while Hama’apilim is one of the city’s most prestigious streets, the dilapidated building gives it the appearance of a slum.
The street’s residents think it is time to force the city to do something and bring about change in the state of the property. Yet thus far, the municipality has not been paying attention to their requests or taking action against an obvious eyesore, the two asserted.
In addition, because the building has suffered damage from heavy winds and storms of recent years, those who call Hama’apilim Street home are concerned about their personal health and safety.
“There have been many incidences of break-ins. The police have been called several times to remove people [squatters] who have gotten into the premises,” explains Portnoi. “After complaints were registered, the owners of the property had the doors boarded up. This did not stop the vandals, who broke down the doors and windows in order to get in. No further boarding up has been done since.
“In addition, we have also seen people scavenge the property for metal.
“We want the structure taken down,” maintains Portnoi. “It is a shame for residents, who live on such a beautiful street that faces the sea and tayelet [promenade], and for tourists who stay in the nearby hotels, to have to be near such an area of neglect.”
The city’s response in the past has been lukewarm. “It is private property – nothing we can do,” Portnoi remembers the answer given.
However, Rafi Hamich, director of the King Solomon Hotel on Hama’apilim, insists that the municipality can take immediate action.
“There are rats and reportedly snakes on the property, making this building a health hazard to residents,” he told Metro, noting this is the responsibility of the municipality.
After Metro’s contacted the Netanya Municipality last week, the first reply came within a few hours, specifying some immediate action: “The municipality acts regularly to encourage entrepreneurs to renovate and upgrade the hotels in town, as evidenced by the recently inaugurated Hotel Leonardo in the city center,” a statement detailed.
“Moreover, let it be noted that a city team of inspectors will tour the site [of the former Orly Hotel] in order to check the condition of the structure, and [ensure all is] enforced in accordance with the needs and the provisions of the law.
“Additionally, spraying and pest control will be undertaken today at the site.”
A follow-up letter came the next day, stating that the city had ordered the owners to seal the vacant building; if they did not do so, they would be subject to legal action.
While this is a start, Portnoi responded that this is insufficient for the following reasons: First, all the contents on the ground floor have to be cleared/emptied and nothing should be left there at all, as it is in a disgusting state.
Second, the site has to be completely sealed with cement from all sides, filling in every single gap so that no one can see inside or get into the building. And it should be well sealed with materials that won’t rattle in the winds and storms prevalent in Netanya – as the noise is very disturbing for neighboring residences.
Finally, the most safe and sanitary step would be for the building to be demolished.
The company representing the owners of the property responded that while they would also like to take the building down, the city has not issued them a permit to do so. Their representative, David Sufsal, also complained about the assessment of high taxes they would have to pay upon demolition as well as building anew.
Granted, fumigation, pest removal and a city order to securely seal the building are steps in the right direction. Yet the question remains: How long will it take?