Haifa Bay plan: Petrochemicals out, 100,000 homes in

Haifa Bay Photo: Tamar Matsafi

The ambitious Innovation Valley program for Haifa Bay was presented today by the Israel Land Administration.

Will the Haifa Bay that we now know be transformed? A national plan for Haifa Bay was presented today at the offices of Israel Land Administration (ILA) in Haifa by Minister of Finance Moshe Kahlon, ILA director Adiel Shimron, and planners from Yaar Korin Management, who are working on the plan. Many local authorities heads from the surrounding area took part in the meeting.

The plan presented envisions the removal of the oil refineries and the petrochemical industry from the area. 100,000 housing units will be built in the places that will add 400,000 new residents to the area. A municipal marina will be built in a new exit channel for the Kishon River, and an island of museums will be created north of the town of Nesher.

Kahlon said that the plan's vision was formed three years ago, and that a year and a half of planning had been invested in it. He added, "The plan was submitted to me six months ago, but I rejected it and demanded improvements. The presentation of the plan is unrelated to the elections. It is a national plan."

Shimron added, "The discussions have passed the initial stage, but the plan is still far from complete… We are promoting a general government plan, and are in discussions with the Ministry of National Infrastructure, Energy and Water Resources; the Ministry of Environmental Protection; the Ministry of Finance; and the Ministry of Economy and Industry. The question of financing the plan can be addressed at a later stage. We are aware of the plan's difficulties."

ILA planning department director Rafi Elmaliach said that the goal was to make Haifa a destination for a new population group by turning a pollution nuisance into an asset through the use of green spaces and water as attractions.

Plan area larger than Netanya

The plan covers 37,000 dunam (9,250 acres), larger than the city of Netanya. The main challenge is removing the factories and purifying the land. Baruch Borochov, CEO of the company that examined the plan's feasibility, estimated the cost of purifying the land at NIS 1.5 billion.

He said that marketing lots in the plan for 9,000 housing units in the western part of the area could begin in 2026 on the site of the tankers farm in Kiryat Haim and in the southeastern part of the plan, close to the Yagur intersection, while purification of the most polluted parts of the land was taking place.

Nesher Mayor Roei Levy, who was present at the meeting, told "Globes" today, "A minister of finance from the area, who knows the feeling of air pollution, is finally coming. It's the same feeling that my children feel every day when they start the morning with an inhaling device. This revolutionary plan comes after thorough planning. It is economically feasible and pays for itself, as the Ministry of Finance says. This is a plan that will pull the region forward and get rid of the air pollution in our area. The residents of Haifa Bay are now a top priority."

Published by Globes, Israel business news - en.globes.co.il - on March 18, 2019

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

Haifa Bay Photo: Tamar Matsafi
Haifa Bay Photo: Tamar Matsafi
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