Hebrew U denies land for 4,000 homes agreement

Mount Scopus campus Photo: Shutterstock

Despite the government announcement, the Hebrew University insists there is no agreement with the government about releasing land for new Jerusalem homes.

"The land arrangement between the Ministry of Finance, the Israel Land Administration (ILA), and the Hebrew University will result in the development of thousands of housing units and tens of thousands of square meters for offices and commerce," an announcement following the cabinet meeting yesterday (Jerusalem Day) stated. The announcement added that the project involved "3,000-4,000 new housing units and tens of thousands of square meters zoned for offices and commerce on various sites on Mount Scopus and Givat Ram."

The announcement added that the arrangement would have many benefits, including effective use of land, and that the arrangement would strengthen the connection between the university and the surrounding neighborhoods, would constitute an "additional source of revenue for the municipality, and would strengthen the economy," and that the government had instructed the ILA "to formulate the arrangement."

University heads admitted to "Globes," however, that the government's announcement, made through the Ministry of Finance, had not been coordinated with the university. Hebrew University VP and director general Yishai Fraenkel said that while the university had been conducting "discussions with ILA and the Ministry of Finance about the matter for a number of months," he immediately added, "It is not something on the verge of being signed."

"Globes": What is the gap in the negotiations between you and the state?

Fraenkel: "We are in discussions. We have not yet reached any precise gap."

He added that the idea of building on the land between the Dan Hotel and the Mount Scopus campus resulted from the state's need and the need of the university, "which is in economic difficulties." He also mentioned that the university was undergoing a recovery program, as part of which it had been agreed that "development of properties would be one of the tools used."

In the rosiest picture, assume that you sign the agreement tomorrow. When do you think that people buying apartments on the site will be able to enter them?"

"According to what we hear from our colleagues, construction can begin within three years, but it of course depends on when we settle the matter with them." If the length of construction is added, it is clear that the earliest possible occupancy of the project will take place in the middle of the following decade.

Fraenkel added that the university had held a substantial proportion of the land for "90-100 years. Some comes from donors, and some was allocated by the British mandatory government. It is a fairly complicated story. A small proportion of the land is leased from ILA, while most of the land is occupied by old and poorly maintained dormitories. They have to promote urban renewal, allow the state to market it as residences, and build dormitories."

Published by Globes, Israel business news - en.globes.co.il - on June 3, 2019

© Copyright of Globes Publisher Itonut (1983) Ltd. 2019

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Mount Scopus campus Photo: Shutterstock
Mount Scopus campus Photo: Shutterstock
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