Haifa to restrict high-rise building to protect Carmel view

Haifa  / Photo: Shutterstock

Mayor Einat Kalisch-Rotem has unveiled her vision of doubling the city's population without blighting the view from Mount Carmel.

The Haifa Municipality has presented for the first time its plan to restrict the height of new buildings in the city. Haifa Mayor Einat Kalisch-Rotem, who personally presented the plan to members of the commission, explained that the guideline for the plan was giving priority to high-rise construction towards the old and low neighborhoods: Sha'ar HaAliya, Kiryat Eliezer, Kiryat Elihayu, Neve David, and the relatively new Neot Peres neighborhood.

Another guideline is preservation of the idyllic view of the city from the Carmel mountain ridge and the port and the reverse view from the lower part of the city of the mountain ridge line, without breaking it up by spread-out construction of towers. "If all of the currently existing plans in Haifa are carried out, the city of Haifa will double in size and have 600,000 residents," Kalisch-Rotem, said, referring to the situation in which developers are striving to build far in excess of the urban plans. This is one of the reasons that the municipality wants to publish a plan defining the height of buildings in order to regulate the matter.

Another reason for setting a construction height policy lies in the approved outline plan for Haifa. This plan sets rules for construction in Haifa, but does not state what those rules are. As a result, planner Ami Shinar says, together with Amir Mann, a partner in his firm, a plan was filed at the municipality for construction of towers with 25-40 storeys next to Haifa Port and in other locations where view sensitivity is high. These plans were rejected, but a need has arisen to devise clear rules for the height of buildings in each part of the city.

Maximum height for towers - 22 floors

The plan divides the city into a number of sections. Buildings of up to 22 floors will be allowed in the city's western neighborhoods, which are referred to as Mevo'ot Haifa, consisting of Neot Peres, Neve David, Sha'ar HaAliya, and Kiryat Eliezer in northwestern Haifa. Construction of varying heights will be allowed in these neighborhoods up to a maximum of 22 floors. 22-floor towers can also be built on Sderot Hahistadrut, the main traffic artery of the Check Post (Road 4). Several months ago, a grandiose plan was presented for removing the petrochemical industry from Haifa Bay and building a huge urban quarter in its place. According to the municipality's vision, construction of up to 22 floors will be allowed in this area.

According to the present plan, the areas in which higher construction will be allowed (although no limits were presented in the matter) are the lower eastern part of the city. These areas are zoned for new construction on Golani Brigade Road and Yeruham Zeisel Road up to the intersection with Giborim Road and Paz Bridge. The northwestern area of the Neve Shaanan neighborhood, which contains part of Yad Lebanim Road and Hanita Street, and the Savyonei Hacarmel area below the University of Haifa, have been approved for especially high construction.

The recommendation for the Hadar Hacarmel neighborhood is to preserve the existing texture and raise it by two storeys to 5-6 floors. In the central Hacarmel area above the German Colony and the Bahai Garden, the planners recommend allowing construction up to 10 storeys.

"The objective is to set clear rules for the developers about what is allowed, with no bargaining or negotiations, and to make them responsible for any deviations," Kalisch-Rotem said. As part of the presentation of the plan, she emphasized her personal statement of principles for residential construction, especially in view of the many plans proposed by developers containing what she regards as an unreasonable addition of housing units to the city. "Our goal is to give priority to developmental energy for the older neighborhoods and the city center, and to halt new construction. No more new neighborhoods," she said, going beyond the subject of the future height of buildings. She explained that from her perspective, important future plans would include multiple uses.

The "port campus" plan was unveiled during the meeting. The plan covers 115 dunam (38.25 acres) containing the city center from the British Mandate period and the entrance area to the port. Its boundaries are the railway track, the port, and the historic customs house, Dagon Silos, and Ha'atzama'ut Boulevard in the south. According to the plan, diverse uses will be set for the port area, which was used mostly for offices and was used by customs agents, lawyers, and so forth. The area has lost most of its activity in recent years, and some of its buildings are now unoccupied. According to the new plan, mixed activity of residences, offices, business, and entertainment will be allowed in the area. Kalisch-Rotem says that the plan takes advantage of the fact that the old port warehouses on the site will soon be vacated, which makes alternative construction possible. She says that the aim is to build 1,600 housing units there and allow construction of up to nine storeys, while preserving the buildings from the British Mandate period.

Among other things, the plan includes the plaza of the Merkaz Hashmona railway station dating to the Mandate period, which served as a meeting place of buses and taxis with the railway and the port. Over time, however, activity on the site was significantly reduced. The architect for the plan is Baruch Baruch.

Published by Globes, Israel business news - en.globes.co.il - on September 12, 2019

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

Haifa  / Photo: Shutterstock
Haifa / Photo: Shutterstock
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