The Jerusalem Municipality announced yesterday that three separate plans proposing hundreds of thousands of meters of business space in East Jerusalem had been deposited. 100,000 square meters of office, industrial and commercial space have been approved in the At-Tur neighborhood; 200,000 square meters of office, commercial and hotel space have been approved in Wadi al-Joz; and 75,000 square meters of office, light industry, workshops and commercial space have been approved for Umm Tuba.
The land in At-Tur is located on the edge of the city's area of jurisdiction, directly connected to the road from Jerusalem to the Dead Sea, close to the Hazeitim Interchange. The area of the site is 45 dunams (11.25 acres). The commercial space will be along the main roads, while the office buildings will be at a distance from the residential areas that border the site. The design is by Geo Ben Gur Architecture.
The plan for Wadi al-Joz is part of a larger plan for development in the area. It covers 80 dunams (20 acres), extending from the main street in Wadi al-Joz to Hebrew University Boulevard in the north. 10% of 200,000 square meter project is residential. It will rise to eight floors in the southern section and fourteen floors in the northern section, with gradations in between. The plan was drawn up by Ari Cohen Architecture and Urban Planning.
The area of the business zone in Umm Tuba is 66 dunams (16.5 acres). The site is east of the Har Homa neighborhood and Kibbutz Ramat Rachel. It has good road access.
Besides the business zone, the plan proposes areas for public buildings for municipal use, an open public area in the northern part of the site, landscaping along the Nahal Darga Road, and pathways connecting Umm Tuba to the business zone. The architect of the plan is Nilly Harag.
Itai Shafran, Business Development Manager at Geocartography Knowledge Group, explained that the surplus of office space much talked about recently did not apply to East Jerusalem. "In general, many business zones are currently being promoted for Jerusalem, at Har Hotzvim, Givat Shaul, Givat Ram, and at the entrance to the city. The need in East Jerusalem arises from the fact that in all these crowded neighborhoods there are no set areas for workspaces, offices for lawyers and accountants, and specialists' clinics. You have to remember that we are talking about a third of the population of the city, nearly 400,000 people, who have no available infrastructure for such areas. It's a case of having to overcome decades of neglect.
"In addition, the Jerusalem Municipality has recently been losing demand for storage space to Bet Shemesh. The reason, first and foremost, is a shortage of sites. This applies to the east of the city, because land in East Jerusalem will be cheaper than in other parts of the city, but it will be accessible from West Jerusalem."
Architect Efrat Cohen-Bar, deputy director of Bimkom - Planners for Planning Rights, said that the plans were welcome, but that an additional step was required. "It's good that the Jerusalem Municipality plans to enable Palestinian residents to develop their land and earn a living from it. The next step is to deal with the greater problem - the shortage of housing. The three plans that the local planning commission is now recommending join more plans in the pipeline that deal with employment and ignore the main problem. Some of them provide small volumes of residential construction. Always small. Always less than is needed. I call on the Jerusalem Municipality take this necessary additional step and to give the residents the roof over their heads that they need alongside employment and a livelihood."
Jerusalem mayor Moshe Lion said, "We are investing in developing employment zones in all parts of the city, including East Jerusalem. This is in order to afford varied employment opportunities to many of the residents of the east of the city. We are working with the aim of narrowing gaps and affording opportunities to all residents of the city: a united Jerusalem, East and West, through action."
Published by Globes, Israel business news - en.globes.co.il - on October 20, 2021.
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