Yerushalayim Approves Plans for High-Rises in Historic Neighborhoods

By Hamodia Staff

A shopping center in the Kiryat Hayovel neighborhood of Yerushalayim. (Gila Brand)

YERUSHALAYIM — Three of Yerushalayim’s historic neighborhoods came into in line for high-rise additions as the city approved on Thursday a plan to build 850 new homes in Katamonim, Kiryat HaYovel and Arnona, The Times of Israel reported.

The plans call for two 32-story buildings in Katamonim, which will dwarf the existing structures, many of which date back to the early 20th century.

In Arnona, three 26-story buildings are envisaged, along with a 30-story tower in Kiryat HaYovel, that planners hope will help to ease the shortage of apartments, particularly small, affordable ones.

The plans also include commercial and office space, new public buildings, and open space.

The city has also a metro system in the works.

On Monday, director-general of the Israel Planning Administration Rafi Elmaleh announced the government’s intention to construct a metro system in the capital in order to keep pace the country’s rapid population growth, The Jerusalem Post reported.

“Today, Jerusalem is already at full capacity in terms of its transportation offerings,” Elmaleh said. “Therefore, the Planning Administration, together with the Transportation Ministry, the Jerusalem Transport Master Plan Team and the Finance Ministry have begun to examine options for building a metro in Jerusalem.”

Demographic projections say that the existing and planned light rail lines in the city will only be adequate to meet demands until the year 2030.

While a solution may be needed, it was not clear that a metro system would be the right one.

Professor Erel Avineri, Head of Energy Engineering Program at the Afeka-Tel Aviv Academic College of Engineering, was dubious:

“Yerushalayim isn’t a very big city, and it’s unclear how many people would actually use a metro to get to work. The city has a significant population, but it lacks the amount and variety of [business] activity that would typically make a metro relevant,” the Post quoted him as saying.

“It’s a question of economic justification. The main added value of transportation is in helping people get to economic and social activities. If it doesn’t accomplish that, there’s no point in investing in it,” he said.

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