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September 18, 2014 / 23 Elul, 5774
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Jerusalem of (Real Estate) Gold

The romantic skyline of Jerusalem is disappearing. The sights of the beautiful churches and minarets of the ancient mosques will soon be eclipsed by high-rise office and apartment buildings. Is Jerusalem on its way to becoming a modern city? Or is it losing its special character?

A reflected Jerusalem skyline in the city's center.

A reflected Jerusalem skyline in the city's center.
Photo Credit: Nati Shohat/FLASH90

Within the next few years, we are likely to see more high-rises dot the landscape in the capital. The next major project will rise near the entrance to the city on Herzl Street, in a region of the city known as the Mekasher Complex. Plans have been approved to raze 96 apartments, which will make way for two large towers of 25 floors apiece and which will include a total of 220 apartments.

Another tower that is scheduled to go up in the near future is the venture belonging to businessman Rami Levi, whose project will be located on the corner of Hebron Way and Moshe Baram Street in the Talpiyot section of Jerusalem. The project encompasses 150 apartment units in two, 12-floor buildings as well as one 18-floor high rise.

A large bloc of buildings is expected to be built in the Arnona neighborhood and the surrounding area within the next few years. Planners are working on the construction of 1,000 apartments stretched across a few 12-floor buildings on Hebron Way.

If you thought that the Holyland project was the highest-altitude edifice in the city, then you obviously hadn’t heard of Zion Towers (Migdalei Zion) that will build by the Hasid Brothers Company in the Arnona quarter. their project sits a top a cliff that rises 800 meters above sea level, the highest in all of the capital. The company’s venture is the only one in the neighborhood that will reach 24 floors, and includes 200 luxury apartments. The sale of the apartments will commence toward the Passover holiday. The four-room units in the complex are being sold at a price of NIS 2.3 million, while five-room apartments are being sold for NIS 2.5 million.

Another 1,800 apartments will be built in the coming years on the hills of Arnona, not far from Kibbutz Ramat Rachel. As part of the plan which was approved recently by the authorities, the buildings will reach between 18 and 24 floors.

Plans that are even bolder have been moved forward in recent years for the city’s center in the area of the Mahane Yehuda market. One of the biggest, most attention-grabbing initiative is the Eden Project, which lies at the intersection between Agripas, Aliash, and King George Streets. It encompasses a 24-floor tower that will offer both hotel services as well as residential apartments. There will also be two more towers that will rise to 24 floors, and they will be built in Etz Hahaim yeshiva complex near the open-air market. This project will offer 184 housing units in multiple towers as well as a hotel with 100 additional rooms.

Not too far from there, two towers are being planned for the area adjacent to Davidka Square. One of the 16-floor structures will be used for a hotel and the other will be a commercial office building. Meanwhile, the area on Jaffa Street that once housed the old central bus station near Sha’are Tzedek Medical Center will soon be home to four new towers. In addition, the historic Beit Mapai building on the corner of Jaffa and Hanavi’im Streets is going to be converted into a 24-floor tower. Just down the block on King George Street, planners are preparing the ground for three new towers that will be used for hotels and residential spaces.

“When we were having our arguments over building high-rise buildings without a clear policy in mind, Uri Ben Asher, the former chief engineer in the municipality, would say, ‘We need to be like Manhattan’,” Avraham said. “Now Jerusalem can say that it’s like Manhattan, but like any ambitious undertaking in Israel, it could turn into a poor-man’s Manhattan if we don’t take the public landscape into account.”

About the Author: Ranit Nachum-Halevi is a consultant to real estate companies, and former senior real estate correspondent for The Marker, Haaretz's daily financial supplement. She has been working in Israel's media for more than 15 years. You can reach her at ranit.nh@gmail.com.


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