25 or 40-floors: Tel Aviv's Kikar Atarim plan sent for review

Kikar Atarim Photo: Eyal Yitzhar

The Tel Aviv District Court returned the plan to the Protection of the Coastal Environment Committee for discussion.

Tel Aviv District Court Vice President Zila Zfat today approved the settlements reached by opponents of the towers plan for Kikar Atarim with the District Planning and Building Commission. She ruled that the towers plan would be returned to the Protection of the Coastal Environment Committee and would require her approval.

The petition was filed early this year by the No to Towers in Kikar Atarim organization, which has 400 members living in the area, including swimmers from the Gordon swimming pool, through Advocates Eli Wilchek and Ravit Cyment of the Cohen, Wilchek & Co. law firm, which specializes in planning and building, against the Tel Aviv District Planning and Building Commission, the Tel Aviv Local Planning and Building Commission, the Tel Aviv municipality, and the developers of the plan.

In its petition, the organization asserted that the plan, which provides for construction of 40-storey residential towers, conflicts with the Tel Aviv outline plan, which stipulates construction of 25 storeys of hotels. This plan was approved by the Protection of the Coastal Environment Committee, but in the framework of the objections to the Tel Aviv outline plan, a marina company that owns part of the rights to Kikar Atarim argued that building rights should be increased to 40 storeys and that residential construction should be allowed. The objections were accepted in 2015, and the District Planning and Building Commission authorized construction of 340 apartments and 600 hotel rooms in three towers. This change, however, was not sent again to the Protection of the Coastal Environment Committee, which had authorized only 25 storeys of hotel space. The opponents argued that after this fault was discovered, they had filed their court petition.

At the court's recommendation, which is consistent with the opponents' petition, the parties agreed that the new version of the plan would be brought for perusal to the Protection of the Coastal Environment Committee within 90 days.

Responding to the ruling, Eedo Zigelboim, who is active in the No to Towers in Kikar Atarim organization, said, "Over the past three years, the Tel Aviv municipality has breached the rules and promoted shortcuts, to use the judge's language. The court, however, recognized that the future of the city's residents should not be taken lightly. I am glad that this matter of importance to all of us will now be heard with the addressed with the proper seriousness."

Wilchek and Cyment said, "We welcome the ruling, and are glad that the court accepted our arguments that the approval process for such a large-scale plan for the Kikar Atarim site was faulty. The large-scale plan will now be returned to the Protection of the Coastal Environment Committee for discussion, and the residents will have the right to argue against the construction of 40-storey residential towers on the Kikar Atarim site on the coastal strip."

Zipi Brand-Frank, a member of the Tel Aviv city council, said, "This is the second time that the district court in Israel has ruled that the Tel Aviv municipality acted callously and illegally, and has forced the municipality to return building plans for Kikar Atarim to the discussion table. Two months ago, the district court judge vacated the municipality's decision to sell the remaining municipal space owned by the residents to a private developer. Throughout, I was the sole city council member who opposed the sale of the parking lot, the only public holding in Kikar Atarim. I fought against 30 city council members, including the mayor. I am glad to see that the court is again ruling that the municipality's conduct is improper, to say the least. This is an enormous achievement for the residents' authentic struggle against the well-oiled municipal machine. I expect Mayor Ron Huldai to think about the public good and act to rehabilitate Kikar Atarim for the benefit of the residents through a balanced and well-considered plan that takes into account the fact that the coast is a rare resource that should belong to everyone."

The JTLV company, which initiated the plan, said, "We welcome the court's ruling, which ratified the agreements between the parties and said that the matter should be sent to the Protection of the Coastal Environment Committee for discussion in the coming months. The court recognizes that there is no need to deposit the Tel Aviv 5000 plan for objections. As a result, we expect the processes to be completed as soon as possible, so that development of the project can continue. This is a historic opportunity, for which people have waited many years, to fix the neglected area, which has become a blight in the heart of Tel Aviv. The new plan will facilitate direct access from the street to the sea in the future."

Published by Globes [online], Israel business news - www.globes-online.com - on April 24, 2018

© Copyright of Globes Publisher Itonut (1983) Ltd. 2018

Kikar Atarim Photo: Eyal Yitzhar
Kikar Atarim Photo: Eyal Yitzhar
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