Secular Israelis make move on new city Harish

A secular buyers group will bid in tenders for lots zoned for 400 apartments with the goal of increasing the zoning to 1,000 apartments.

The struggle for the future of Harish has moved from words to deeds. A secular buyers group is organizing to bid in tenders for lots zoned for 400 housing units in the new city intended for haredim (ultra-orthodox) in Wadi Ara. Businessman Israel Avital and Jerusalem broker Assaf Hubara, who are setting up a building association to jointly buy the land, have received hundreds of queries in the past week via website and Facebook page of Liberated Harish and they have already signed up 50 buyers.

The first tenders published for Harish, for land for almost 5,000 apartments, will be closed in exactly two months. The price for a 105-square meter apartment is NIS 650,000, including construction costs (about NIS 400,000), development costs, management fees, planning, and taxes. The land is free.

"The tenders are open to everyone, and there is a severe housing shortage which we are constantly complaining about. Now we have a one-time opportunity to buy an apartment at cost prices, a new apartment in a new town. Why not enjoy the prices?" says Hubara.

Avital says, "You can call this Zionism, but my objective is to reside at a reasonable price, not to mortgage myself forever. NIS 4,000 a month for 20 years - a young couple can't afford that."

Like Modi'in in the beginning

Avital, who will soon marry, plans to live and raise his children in Harish. He promises that the buyers group is not buying apartments for investment and lease them to haredim. "We want to enjoy low prices such as there were in Modi'in and Shoham when they started out," he says. "All that has to be done now is to solve the problem of the population and bring as many secular people as possible."

Management of the project has been handed over to Bemuna Ltd., a national-religious real estate company which manages several associations in Harish, because it has a proven track record say Avital and Hubara. Bemuna CEO Israel Zeira said, "Harish is an inexpensive housing solution. Just like the housing shortage for secular Jews, there is a shortage for everyone and all communities. Secular Jews also deserve to benefit from free land here. There will be neighborhoods, just like in Jerusalem - that is healthy for the nation."

Published by Globes [online], Israel business news - www.globes-online.com - on September 10, 2012

© Copyright of Globes Publisher Itonut (1983) Ltd. 2012

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