Planning c'ttee approves Kikar Atarim redevelopment plan

Image of Kikar Atarim plan  credit: Yashar Architects

Under the plan, two 25-floor towers will be built on the Tel Aviv seafront site, and a 6.5-floor hotel and residential building.

The local Tel Aviv-Yafo District Planning and Building Committee today approved for deposit for objections the plan for redevelopment of Kikar Atarim (Atarim Square) on Tel Aviv's seafront. Under the proposed plan, Kikar Atarim, including the buildings adjacent to it, will be demolished, and a new complex of squares joining the coastal strip to Ben Gurion Boulevard. Two 25-floor towers will be built on the site, and a 6.5-floor hotel and residential building. The plan includes raising the sunken Eliezer Peri Street to the natural level of the land.

Altogether, there will new construction of some 65,000 square meters. Half the space will be for residential use (about 220 housing units) and half for hotel use (about 300 hotel rooms). There will also be commercial space and 4,800 square meters of public buildings.

In a statement, the Tel Aviv Municipality pointed out the disadvantages of the current situation in which Kikar Atarim is raised above Hayarkon Street, and said, "Above all, the existing Kikar Atarim space is not aligned with the city's strategic concept for the coastline and public space."

The saga of the redevelopment of Kikar Atarim began ten years ago when a company called Idit Properties Management Ltd. (JTLV) bought all the assets on the site apart from the parking lot which was owned in partnership with JTLV. The partners promoted the deal with the aim of realizing a project consisting of prestige residences, and commercial and hotel space. JTLV reached an understanding for the sale of the Tel Aviv Municipality's share in the parking lot for NIS 150 million, and in 2017 the city council approved the deal.

The original plan, by noted British architect Norman Foster, proposed the demolition of the existing square and its buildings, and the construction of four towers, two of them of 26 floors, one of 31 floors, and one of 36 floors. The plan included 80,000 square meters of hotel and residential space, 4,000 square meters of public space, commercial space and ten dunams (2.5 acres) of open areas.

In 2018, following a protest by the "No Towers on Kikar Atarim" association, the District Court decided to return the plan for discussion in the Committee for the Protection of the Coastal Environment. In June 2018, the committee approved a plan for two 25-floor towers.

In December 2019, the Tel Aviv Municipality held a public participation conference in which all sides were allowed to express their views on the plan. JTLV's representatives expressed their desire to advance the plan as agreed with the city engineering administration. The plan's opponents argued that it meant a critical blow to the public, to the skyline, and to access to the sea.

In 2018, businessperson Sefi Tzvieli petitioned the Tel Aviv District Court, claiming that the deal for the sale of the Tel Aviv Municipality's share in the parking lot was improper and that the municipality had a duty to hold a public auction. The court decided in his favor, a decision later upheld by the Supreme Court. Last July, it was reported that Tzvieli, together with real estate company Nitsba, would buy the Kikar Atarim car park for NIS 341 million. It is clear that without cooperation between JTLV and Tzvieli and Nitsba, the current plan cannot proceed.

Sources close to the purchasers of the car park said that according to their understanding, the local committee's decision to deposit the plan for objections was only a stage in the promotion of a redevelopment project on the Kikar Atarim site, that the plan was not good that there was still time to file objections, and that they were considering their next steps. They claim that the value of the car park means that their share in the project is no less than 80%.

Adv. Noam Kolodny, an expert on planning and construction law, who represents the "No Towers on Kikar Atarim" association, which brings together hundreds of people who live close to the square, said, "The local committee made a hasty decision to deposit the plan for objections despite clear arguments of ultra vires, and without an up-to-date economic opinion, an environmental opinion, a transport opinion, and at the height of a controversy over the fate of the public space on the Kikar Atarim site which is liable to be sequestered for the benefit of the developers. The decision was also completely contrary to the decision of the Protection of the Coastal Environment Committee."

Published by Globes, Israel business news - en.globes.co.il - on January 13, 2022.

© Copyright of Globes Publisher Itonut (1983) Ltd., 2022.

Image of Kikar Atarim plan  credit: Yashar Architects
Image of Kikar Atarim plan credit: Yashar Architects
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