The city of Tel Aviv has a draft master plan update, outline plan TA/5500, which is a continuation of outline plan TA/5000. The update is expected to be approved by the end of 2023.
The main arteries will be the light rail and metro routes, and around them construction will be considerably intensified. Dozens of new towers will join the existing ones, rising to heights of between 20 floors and 80 floor skyscrapers. The streets themselves will become more "urban" and more densely packed, with much more commercial space, even in more outlying neighborhoods in the south and east of the city.
The current update, and the outline plan that will follow it (TA/6000) will have to provide a response to the city's continued growth. Its population is projected to reach half a million by 2025. The draft update does add building rights for dozens of floors in several places in the city, but it could be that even this will not suffice.
One of the most intriguing areas in the plan is the north-west quarter, north of the now closed Sde Dov airport. The plan provides for nearly 13,000 new housing units in what is today a wasteland. In some places, in the north of the quarter, 45-floor towers will be permitted, and at certain points up to 80 floors.
Another interesting site is the area of the new central bus station, among other things because of its complexity and the moves to vacate the bus station. Once it is vacated, the plan will allow construction of up to 40 floors, up from 25 floors in outline plan TA/5000.
"High-rise construction is a necessity," explains Orit Muhlbauer-Eyal of Muhlbauer Architects. "It's much greener to have higher density. The right planning will ensure that existing traffic arteries, such as Namir Road, will become urban streets.
"High-rise construction is the right way of exploiting the land resource in areas that are sparsely built, such as the Yad Eliyahu neighborhood. These are areas where the buildings are also of poor quality, and they do not have an urban character. Larger-scale construction, with mixed usage, will turn them into areas that do not feel suburban, but rather inseparable parts of the city. In my view, it would be right to do that northwards as well, and not just eastwards, towards Road 2, up to Glilot."
Right direction, but not enough
Adv. Tzvi Shoob and Eyal Oliker of Tzvi Shoob Law Offices, which specializes in planning and construction law, claim that the draft revision is inadequate. "Building rights should be doubled in relation to outline plan TA/5000," they say. "It's clear that outline plan TA/5500 will dictate planning trends in the city in the coming years. The trends of higher density and increased rights in certain areas of the city are important, but the degree of densification proposed in the draft is inadequate, and is not in line with the thrust of National Outline Plan 70, which proposes increasing the scope of construction extremely broadly along the light rail and metro routes. So although the current outline is a step in the right direction, it does not go far enough to deal with the challenges expected in the city in the coming years."
The Tel Aviv Municipality has set the end of 2023 as the deadline for final approval of the TA/5500 plan. The plan is, however, likely to undergo changes before then. The city's previous outline plan started out in 2008, but was eventually approved only in 2016, among other things because it encountered hundreds of objections. The current revision will probably meet with fewer objections, but still enough to delay it.
It is also important to note that the first light rail line, the red line, is expected to be fully operational at the end of this year at the earliest, and the metro is planned to become operational around 2030-2031 - and that is the optimistic scenario for implementing the high-rise plans for Tel Aviv envisaged in the TA/5500 plan. It could well take much longer.
The update to the current outline plan is just one more stage along the way. In 2026, the Tel Aviv Municipality is due to put forward its outline plan TA/6000, which will not be just an update, but a new, complete master plan.
Published by Globes, Israel business news - en.globes.co.il - on April 5, 2022.
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