Public space dispute delays Azrieli spiral tower plan

Impression of Azrieli Spiral Tower

The planning authorities and the Transport Ministry are demanding design changes that Azrieli Group calls "totally impractical."

In December 2018, Azrieli Group revealed the design of the fourth tower on the Azrieli site in Tel Aviv, branded "the spiral tower" because of its shape. A year has passed, and a letter obtained by "Globes" indicates a substantial gap between the company and the planning authorities about the project's architectural design. In view of the dispute, a discussion concerning the plan scheduled for last week was postponed.

The 90-storey tower will be built on a lot at the intersection of Begin Road and Mozes Road that formerly housed the "Yedioth Ahronoth" building. Azrieli acquired the land in 2013 for $374 million. In contrast to the existing triangle tower and round tower, the new tower will have 27,000 square meters of housing space, in addition to office, commercial, and hotel space.

Less vehicular traffic, more pedestrians

As indicated by the correspondence obtained by "Globes," there are differences of opinion between the planning authority and the developers concerning the proposed plan. Last September, Tel Aviv District Planning and Building Commission chairperson Daniela Posek and Shani Mashiah and Shai Kedem from the Ministry of Transport sent a letter to acting Tel Aviv municipal engineer Doron Sapir and Tel Aviv municipal engineer Udi Carmeli containing a long list of problems, mainly concerning development of the public space around the new building and the three existing buildings. "Because of its location, the public space in the Azrieli project constitutes an introduction to the city of Tel Aviv-Jaffa for visitors arriving by train from all over Israel," the letter begins, and lists matters that should be settled before the plan goes ahead, including areas for loading and unloading. According to the letter, these areas face the area of Begin Road, which is defined for the future as "an important and emblematic metropolitan boulevard." The letter mentions the absence of a solution for reducing the visibility of garbage vehicles, the lack of trees along the sidewalks, and other matters. The letter states, "The area taken up by vehicular traffic should be reduced, with the freed-up area being used for pedestrians." The letter goes on to say that the passages within the new planned shopping mall are too narrow, and the plan does not address connectivity for future transportation projects: the metro and the new Israel Railways tracks.

Early last month, Azrieli CEO Eyal Henkin sent an answering letter, which opens by saying, "Most of the recommendations in the Tel Aviv planner's written opinion are completely impractical."

Azrieli: The tower has a valid urban building plan

Tel Aviv-Yafo Deputy Mayor Meital Lehavi, who is responsible for transport in the Tel Aviv municipality, told "Globes" following the postponement of the discussion of the project, "The subject of the ground level and the passageways between the light rail and the  railway, and connectivity to the bus stops, is a sensitive matter of principle. In the existing plan, there is no room for a bus stop. If we take into account that a sidewalk for 40,000 pedestrians at peak hours must also be included, as well as both a bus stop and a bicycle path, then the proposed four-meter wide sidewalk is too narrow."

The Tel Aviv municipality said that discussion of the plan had been postponed in order "to examine and become familiar with the plan in depth. We intend to discuss the matter again a month from now."

Azrieli Group said, "There is a valid urban building plan for the spiral tower under the authority of the District Planning and Building Commission. In the past two years, Azrieli Group has been promoting a design in close consultation and full coordination with the all those concerned, including the Tel Aviv municipality planning teams, the Tel Aviv District Planning and Building Commission, and the Ministry of Transport. The materials sent by the group show beyond any doubt that the tower and its surroundings were planned and designed according to the most stringent international standards, with no compromises, and that the plan will greatly upgrade the public space in the area, particularly for pedestrians."

Published by Globes, Israel business news - en.globes.co.il - on November 24, 2019

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

Impression of Azrieli Spiral Tower
Impression of Azrieli Spiral Tower
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