The Elizabeth Hotel opened in Tiberias in 1929 with top British mandate officials at the gala event. The small hotel at the corner of Ahad Ha'am and Bialik Streets in downtown Tiberias became the Genossar Hotel after 1948 and carried on operating until the 1960s, when it was abandoned.
But now the once iconic Tiberias building is to be revived. The Tiberias Local Planning and Building Committee recently approved a plan to convert the crumbling, abandoned building and the adjacent former Elisheva cinema into a 50-room boutique hotel and a 21-floor high-rise residential tower with 144 apartments and underground parking. The project on the 5,200 square meter lot, if approved by the Northern District Planning and Building Committee, will cost NIS 30 million.
The plan is being developed by Piedmont Enterprises, owned by the Morad and Schwarbert families and designed by architect Moshe Zur.
Piedmont Enterprises CEO Eyal Amir recounts that he came to Tiberias on a family trip and then saw the Israel Land Authority tender for the construction of a new neighborhood that became MichaelAngelo Kinneret, which overlooks the Kinneret and has attracted many foreign investors. "It became the most exclusive neighborhood in Tiberias which has brought great pride to the city. Due to the neighborhood we have become big partners with Tiberias and they came to us with the offer to buy the Elizabeth Hotel. We looked at it and saw that it is a project with a lot of soul."
The Elizabeth Hotel was named after the wife of Shlomo Feingold. It was one of a chain of hotels that he developed around the country in the 1930s including Nefe Yof on Tel Aviv beach and Beit Feingold in downtown Jerusalem on Jaffa Road. The 80-room Elizabeth Hotel building itself was designed by architect Dov Hershkovitz as a kind of miniature palace. He also designed Hadassah Hospital in Tel Aviv's Balfour Street, the City Council House in Rothschild Boulevard and Dizengoff House from where the State was proclaimed. The adjacent cinema had 500-seats.
But is this the place for a luxury project. A nearby five-room, third floor apartment is on sale for NIS 900,000 and a 3-room apartment with a view of the lake is likely to sell for NIS 810,000.
Tiberias's socioeconomic situation is difficult. Who are you aiming at with a project of this kind?
"Firstly this is the most sought after street in Tiberias because it has a view northwards over the lake. In addition, we believe that the story of the project is strong. People will live in a one of a kind property, which combines a lot of history, and high level architecture with reasonable prices for this kind of project. Not Tel Aviv prices. We have a good reputation in Tiberias and we have interest from investors abroad, throughout the country and in Tiberias.
When do you expect the hotel to open?
"The complexity of this project because it combines an historic building with a very large new building, and because it merges lots, requires the district committee to approve the project. We hope that the authorities will stand behind their statement that the project has the urban and national importance to move forward quickly.
Piedmont Enterprises legal consultant Niri Morad Mizrahi said, "The Genossar Hotel has major value to the residents of Tiberias. My parents got married here in 1967. I see major importance is restoring and preserving this wonderful building and bringing the Genossar Hotel back to its glory."
Tiberias city engineer architect Motti Lavie said, "This is a building for preservation that has been abandoned for decades that has architectural and historical importance. In the distant past this area had a hotel and cinema but over the years the ownership was split. Only over the past year have the developers succeeded in buying the two lots. We have a rare opportunity to develop all the land as one unit and we believe that the project will have an influence on the Kiryat Shmuel neighborhood and the entire urban environment."
Lavie explained that the cost of preservation, building an underground car park and other elements in developing the building were all taken into account when setting the dimensions of the building.
Published by Globes, Israel business news - en.globes.co.il - on June 22, 2020
© Copyright of Globes Publisher Itonut (1983) Ltd. 2020