Huge Beit Shemesh urban renewal project approved

Beit Shemesh

333 old apartments in Beit Shemesh will be demolished and 1,900 apartments built in their place.

A huge urban renewal project in Beit Shemesh has advanced another stage in the planning institutions. The Jerusalem District Planning and Building Commission yesterday approved for validation a plan for vacating 333 old apartments in Beit Shemesh and building 1,900 new apartments in their place. The plan concerns the 130-dunam (32.5-acre) Bialik site in the city, which also involves non-residential use - 200 sheltered housing units.

The plan also includes 9,000 sq.m. of commercial and business space on the ground and first floors of the residential buildings.

The plan was approved for validation by a subcommittee for objections, meaning that it has received final approval after the objections were heard and a discussion took plane about them. The plan has been in the District Planning and Building Commission for more than two years, after the Local Planning and Building Commission approved it in November 2012 for deposit at the District Planning and Building Commission.

According to the plan, residential buildings of 9-21 storeys can be built on the lot. The Ministry of Construction initiated the plan together with the residents of the neighborhood, designers from the municipality, government representatives, and representative of the public. The proposed plan will first build new residential buildings that will house the old tenants, and demolish the old buildings only afterwards. This method is preferable, because the original apartment owners will not have to move to substitute housing while construction is taking place; they will be able to move immediately to a new apartment before their current apartment has been demolished. Architect Irit Solsi led the design.

The ratio of new apartments to old apartments on the lot is exceptional: six new apartments for each old one to be demolished. The ratio in the central region is generally between three to one and four to one. At the same time, the inclusion of sheltered housing units is unusual in plans of this type, but there is a growing trend among planning institutions to mix a variety of uses in residential projects, including a larger number of housing units, with less burden on existing infrastructure. Nevertheless, sources familiar with the sheltered housing sector explain that the decision to include 200 sheltered housing units is likely to create a problem, because the number of sheltered housing units is too small to make it worthwhile to build and operate them.

Avraham Berger, who is managing the project on behalf of the Beit Shemesh municipality, noted that the plan was a significant milestone. "This is a huge urban renewal project, and its approval is important for progress. The plan will also contain sheltered housing, commerce, and business. As of now, the state of the buildings is very poor, and there is a very high consent proportion among the tenants. The plan divides the lot into four sub-lots. The apartment owners in each sub-lot will later make a contract with developers."

The planning department today said, "This is an important plan facilitating urban renewal in an old part of Beit Shemesh with a significant increase in the number of housing units, which is badly needed. This complicated plan raises various social, economic, environmental, and other questions requiring creative and flexible solutions. The construction proposed in the plan will create an intensive urban fabric around a public foundation with continuous green spaces, public buildings, and a plan according to the principles of a neighborhood that is accessible and comfortable for pedestrians, combining uses and creating an active neighborhood center in the middle of the lot."

Published by Globes [online], Israel business news - www.globes-online.com - on August 18, 2015

© Copyright of Globes Publisher Itonut (1983) Ltd. 2015

Beit Shemesh
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