New IDF Negev training base to be carless

The base will be the size of a small town.

The IDF training base city is one of Israel's largest construction projects for the coming years. It covers 250,000 square meters, and will open the way for additional projects, totaling hundreds of thousands of square meters in the south of the country.

In an interview with "Globes", Ministry of Defense Budget Department director and financial advisor to the IDF Chief of the General Staff Brig.-Gen. Maharan Frozenfar disclosed for the first time the feverish preparations for the huge tender for the project. This will be the first in a series of tenders for the construction of the new training base. He said that the goal was to transfer to the Negev 20,000 soldiers and thousands of families of IDF regular officers and NCOs at a direct cost of NIS 25 billion.

While in recent weeks the real estate press has been full of stories about the tender for the Tel Aviv wholesale market site, it is interesting to discover that the tender for the construction of IDF training base city, the details of which "Globes" is disclosing for the first time, resembles in size and features the plan for Tel Aviv's new neighborhood: 250,000 square meters of built-up space on a 1,600-dunam (400 acre) site.

Frozenfar says that the training base city's proximity to polluting factories actually promotes environmentally friendly issues. "The training base city project is a classic example of a lever for promoting environmental issues. Without this project, our situation would be far worse, and there is already a considerable improvement compared with five years ago. We're still undertaking the environmental survey and sampling the soil. The factories in the area will invest NIS 2 billion by 2012 in solving environmental problems.

"Ramat Hovav has until 2010 to comply with the strict standards. In any event, even if the tender moves forward and we that an environmental issue is causing a delay, we will not occupy the training base city until the environmental issue is dealt with."

The environmental basis for the training base city as specified in the documents includes a ban on the entry of cars except on the ring road, in effect creating a huge promenade. The project will also utilize solar energy, recycling systems, energy and water saving facilities, and will be powered by a natural gas power plant.

The training base city will be the first IDF base built with wheelchair access to all buildings. If the eco-friendly building model works, the Ministry of Defense promises to adopt it at other IDF bases.

The population of the training base city will be larger than the 8,500 residents of nearby Yeruham, making the base a city for all intents and purposes. The base residences are intended only for the troops, while regular IDF officers and NCOs will reside off-base, which is intended to encourage the purchase of homes in the area and generate a construction boom. Rental housing will be provided for young regular officers and NCOs.

Published by Globes [online], Israel business news - www.globes-online.com - on July 7, 2008

© Copyright of Globes Publisher Itonut (1983) Ltd. 2008

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