Residents reject plan for 222 homes in Haifa's Denya

Ramat Denya  / Imagin: Endo Studio

Residents accepted a plan for 133 housing units, but the District Planning and Building Commission rejected it and demanded greater housing density.

A group of developers deposited a plan for expanding the exclusive Denya neighborhood in Haifa by 222 housing units on a 108-dunam (27-acre) site. The plan is located in the southern part of the neighborhood. Residents of the neighborhood are likely to file objections to the plan, after having previous organized a conference against the initiative.

The area on which the new neighborhood is located is between Norway Street and Sweden Street, west of Sha'arit Haplita Street, and is bordered on the south by Wadi Neder in Mount Carmel Park. The project involves the neighborhood's last land reserve, which has not been renewed since the construction of Denya B, the western neighborhood, two decades ago.

The land belongs to the Israel Land Authority (ILA), which marketed it in 2012 as a land tender in the process of planning. ILA previously tried to promote a plan for 300 housing units, which the residents opposed, and the plan was eventually dropped. The developers, Green Denya, owned by CEO Gilad Kugelmann, Alex Hoffman, Menachem Carmel, and Adv. David Johan, bought it for NIS 39.7 million, and in 2015 tried to promote construction of 133 housing units on the land. Johan says that the neighborhood's residents accepted the plan, but the District Planning and Building Commission refused to approve it, demanding greater much greater density, with 600 housing units.

The developers, with the municipality's cooperation, reduced the density to 256 housing units, but following an appeal by the Society for the Protection of Nature in Israel (SPNI) to keep construction away from the Neder River, the District Planning and Building Commission agreed in February to deposit the current plan with 222 housing units, a fifth of which will be reserved for small housing units for young couples. A boutique hotel designed by architect Rani Ziss will also be built. The plan was separated last week.

The size of the lots will vary from 600 square meters to 1.1 dunam (0.275 acres), and the area of the private housing units will be 150 square meters. The company plans to market some of the lots for independent construction, but is meanwhile refusing to state its prices. Johan told "Globes" that due to the difficult topographic conditions, the company had been forced to buy a bordering building in order to demolish it and use it as an entrance to the planned site.

Residents previously expressed opposition to the plan, including former Haifa Mayor Yona Yahav, a resident of the neighborhood. Yahav argued that the company had not fulfilled its obligations concerning the number of housing units, and expressed concern that a mikveh would be constructed in the public area. Johan completely denied this, and told "Globes" that the reason that the company had not adhered to the original plan for 133 housing units was that the District Planning and Building Commission had refused to approve it. Johan added that construction in the public space in the plan would be according to the municipality's requirements, and that there was no plan to build a mikveh. Opposition by residents to the plan is nevertheless expected, among other things due to transportation congestion that it is liable to add to the neighborhood, to which only two intersections with traffic lights on the mountain ridge lead.

Kugelmann said, "The plan is designed above all for the children of the residents of the Denya neighborhood, which is the reason that we began early registration today only for Denya residents. Dozens of the neighborhood's residents expressed interest in homes for the next generation and in preservation of the neighborhood's character and the balance of the residents in it, together with an infusion of a young and excellent population that will contribute to its establishment as one of the best and most prestigious neighborhoods in Israel."

The residents, however, were not appeased. Adv. Helen Shalev Dorfman, chairperson of the Denya Preservation Organization, announced that the neighbors would not allow the plan to pass easily. "Last Thursday, we learned about the depositing of the plan at an unusual time, just before the holidays. The plan filed is unrealistic and detached from the entire environment. This is total disregard for the residents' lives, with no strategic planning perspective. The Denya Preservation Organization, in the name of hundreds of families in the Denya neighborhood will file its objections at the District Planning and Building Commission," Dorfman stated. She referred to the plan as "a massive and destructive building plan that will change the unique character of the Denya neighborhood and Mount Carmel."

Dorfman added, "It will be recalled that the first plan by the developer in 2017 included only 133 housing units. It was approved by the Local Planning and Building Commission, but rejected by the District Planning and Building Commission, which demanded an increase in construction density in the Denya neighborhood that materially clashed with the neighborhood's character. It is time to admit that the plan will not improve the housing market in Haifa, and is not designed for move-up housing buyers and young couples. In the existing price range, it is misleading to portray Green Denya as a residential neighborhood for move-up buyers or rental homes."

Published by Globes, Israel business news - en.globes.co.il - on September 22, 2019

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

Ramat Denya  / Imagin: Endo Studio
Ramat Denya / Imagin: Endo Studio
Twitter Facebook Linkedin RSS Newsletters גלובס Israel Business Conference 2018