Israel's Central District Building and Planning Commission has approved for deposit a huge urban renewal plan for the Ramat Eliahu neighborhood, regarded as one of the most disadvantaged neighborhoods in Rishon Lezion. The plan, promoted by the Rishon Lezion municipality, contains 5,397 housing units to be built in 9-30-storey residential buildings in place of the 2,900 existing housing units in 3-4-storey apartment blocks. 1,714 more housing units will be built as part of the plan on supplementary land in other neighborhoods.
Ramat Eliahu is located south of Holon, west of Road 4, east of Abba Hillel Silver Street, and north of Yaakov Cohen Street. The neighborhood was built 75 years ago, and has always been a place where immigrants lived. In the 1950s and 1960s, immigrants from Romania and Sephardic immigrants settled there, and immigrants from Ethiopia and Russia settled there in the 1990s. Ramat Eliahu is physically distant and cut off from the Rishon Lezion city center, and the people living there remained economically disadvantaged. The neighborhood had the reputation of being a place of crime and poverty. The public infrastructure and most of the apartment blocks there are in a poor state of repair.
The plan, devised by architect Naama Melis, divides the area of the plan into urban renewal sites, each with a clear definition of the number of housing units and amount of commercial and public space in them. The plan includes arrangement and supplementing the existing road network inside the neighborhood, special public transportation lanes, and connection to the mass transit stations planned outside the neighborhood. It also includes construction of an east-west bypass road in the northern part of the neighborhood, in accordance with the urban outline plan, construction of a bridge above Road 4 connecting the Nahal Illit neighborhood, a connection on the north with Holon, widening the sidewalks and construction of pedestrian and bicycle paths, and connections to the city's road network. Tseitlin Street, which runs through the center of the neighborhood, is planned as a commercial artery with commercial facades.
The plan requires allocation of additional land, because all of the planned housing units cannot be contained within the neighborhood itself. According to the plan, the extra land will come from the Nahalat Illit and Tzrifin (Nuriyot and Narkisim) neighborhoods and the Elef Interchange.
2,500 housing units will be built in Nahalat Illit, 714 of which will be allocated to residents of Ramat Eliahu. 500 housing units will be built in Tzrifin, a third of which will be allocated to Ramat Eliahu residents. 500 housing units will be built on the Elef site, a third of which will be allocated to Ramat Eliahu residents.
Rishon Lezion Mayor Raz Kinstlich says that a neighborhood administration was founded in order to promote the project and provide the residents with social and legal advice. "The neighborhood is not a strong one; it is dominated by members of the Ethiopian community. The administration provides for all of their needs: an attentive ear, a lawyer, and a social worker. Managing this is not an easy job. 10 people gathered in my office and refused to sign, because they said that they were used to the neighborhood. I had to explain to their children that they would get homes worth twice as much or more. The administration is getting people's trust, and the current approval of the plan was helpful in this." Kinstlich says that Ashdar Building Company and Shikun & Binui have already begun constructing buildings to house people removed from Ramat Eliahu, and believes that the project can be begun within three years.
Published by Globes, Israel business news - en.globes.co.il - on February 11, 2020
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