Owners of properties in the area of the Chinese embassy building on Habarzel Street in Tel Aviv's Ramat Hahayal district are concerned about a drop in the value of their properties. The reason is an extraordinary request by the embassy to the Tel Aviv municipality to build a four-meter wall surrounding the building.
In December 2015, "Globes" reported that Levinstein Group and its partners had sold Comverse House at 29 Habarzel Street to the Chinese government for NIS 200 million to house its new embassy. The complex contains a six-floor office building with 16,000 square meters in space and 350 underground parking spaces. The Chinese embassy plans to move from its present location on Ben Yehuda Street in Tel Aviv to the Ramat Hahayal building after it is adapted for the embassy, including approval of a request for living quarters for its staff.
An appraisal opinion commissioned by owners of property in the area and obtained by "Globes" indicates that the embassy has been adapting the new building to its needs in recent years. In 2018, the embassy submitted a plan that rezones the lot from industry, offices, and commerce to an embassy, including residences for the embassy's employees. The opinion, drawn up by the Fermon Property Appraisers firm, states that as part of the renovations currently being conducted on the building, metal has been added to the top of the perimeter security fence surrounding it, thereby raised it from a height of 1.5 meters to three meters, with barbed wire on the top, without a building permit.
"The renovation permit allows only repairs, without an increase in height," the opinion states. "Metal was added on top of the fence in breach of the existing building permits for the building, which allow a concrete perimeter fence 1.5 meters high. Putting metal on top of the fence deviates from the provisions of the document of instructions issued by the Tel Aviv municipality for building sites, which states that putting up a security fence requires valid building permits, and in any case, the maximum height is two meters." The opinion also states that the previous situation should be restored by demolishing the metal addition erected in violation of building permits.
Concern: The fence will reduce property values
The opinion also states that two requests for building permits containing concessions were submitted, including a concession allowing increasing the height of the security fence to four meters. "There are no four-meter high concrete fences between business buildings in the industrial zone in question. The requested fence height is unusual, and will block exposures to areas on the ground floor in the adjacent building at 27 Habarzel, which is used for commercial activity and for offices," the opinion states. "It is likely that building a four-meter high fence in an adjacent lot will have a negative impact on the value of these areas, and that owners of the adjacent properties have grounds for opposing approval of the concessions in the height of the fence because of their effect on the value of the rights in the adjacent property."
The Tel Aviv municipality said, "The Chinese embassy asked the Local Planning and Building Commission for a building permit for converting the building to offices and residences for the embassy staff, and for increasing the height of the existing security fences above 1.5 meters as a protective safety wall for the embassy. Until the safety wall is approved, the embassy built a temporary fence to secure the contents of the building. The Local Planning and Building Commission approved the request, and soon, when the building permit is issued, the temporary fence will be demolished and an approved permanent fence will be erected. This matter is particularly sensitive, due to its effect on diplomatic relations between the two countries. Needless to say, all of the security requirements of the Israeli embassy building in China were fully granted with great amity."
No response from the Chinese embassy was available.
Published by Globes, Israel business news - en.globes.co.il - on August 6, 2019
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