Last week the Jerusalem Municipality unveiled plans to transform the ramshackle Talpiot Industrial Zone, into what it described as, "a new city in the heart of Jerusalem of advanced international standards." If all goes to plan, by 2040 the ugly area of neglected workshops and commercial premises will become the "Talpiot Quarter," a new city within the city of Jerusalem.
The Talpiot industrial zone was built in the 1960s at the southern edge of the then divided city. All the noisiest, dirtiest and most polluting enterprises seemed to drain down to the southern end of the city, to form a grimy collection of workshops, garages and factories. At the edges of the industrial zone, low quality apartments were built.
At the end of the 1970s, the area also took on a commercial character with the likes of Rami Levy Chain Stores Hashikma Marketing 2006 Ltd. (TASE:RMLI) opening up warehouse supermarkets and night clubs like Oman 17 and the Yellow Submarine also took root as well as art schools and colleges.
In 2013, the Jerusalem Municipality issued the first masterplan for rehabilitating the area and this plan has now been revised, mainly by adding more housing, and has been approved by the Jerusalem District Committee.
The plan covers 300 acres between Rivka Street and the Oranim Junction (Emek Refaim and Pierre Koenig St) in the north, Moshe Baram Street in the south, Derekh Hevron in the eaqst and the old railway line in the west. The plan includes Mekor Haim and parts of the Baka neighborhood near Derekh Hevron.
The plan includes 8,250 apartments in buildings of 14-30 floors, 225,000 square meters of public buildings, 851,603 square meters of commercial and office space, 80,000 square meters of workshops and 35 acres of open spaces.
Pierre Koenig Street, the main thoroughfare through the Talpiot Industrial Zone leading from the German Colony will see the densest construction with 30-floor high-rises along it. Yad Haruzim Street to the east and Haoman Street to the west will have buildings 14-24 floors high. Buildings will typically have broader six floor foundation buildings of commercial and office space with the floors above them for housing.
Architect Jacob Molho said that the original plan from 2013 when Nir Barkat was mayor did not include housing but the current mayor Moshe Lion has a different agenda and believes there is a huge shortage of housing in the city. Molho agrees that there is demand and the need for the housing.
Are 30-floor high-rises suitable for Jerusalem?
Molho, "The plan talks about the option of building 30-floors in certain areas but in the same breath talks about demolishing areas and not necessarily building skyscrapers. They have set us a target of 8,500 housing units and we are building high without being ashamed of it but we could solve this with buildings that are less high."
Molho stresses that no homes will be built without public buildings first.
Prof. Hillel Schoken of Tel Aviv University's Azrieli School of Architecture and Head of the Urban Development Unit of Merhav and a former Jerusalemite is enthusiastic about the plan. "As somebody who used to have an office in Talpiot, I think it is a most wretched place. I am not deterred by the number of floors in the new plan. What is important is how the buildings meet the land and how the public spaces function. If there is commercial space with lots of stores then that's excellent." Yossi Saidov, founder and CEO of the 15 Minutes public transport watchdog and a member of the administration for the adjacent Katamonim neighborhood opposes the plan. "Ten years ago the Jerusalem Municipality approved a master plan for the Katamonim, which was supposed to double the number of apartments in 20 years. This plan is very far from realizing its targets. It makes me want to cry out. If the private sector is to invest in these plans then the municipality itself must demonstrate that it is serious. It must invest money."
Published by Globes, Israel business news - en.globes.co.il - on March 14, 2021
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