One of the proposed solutions for Israel’s housing shortage is the relocation of IDF bases from areas that are in high demand. These bases would make way for thousands of housing units. In recent years, public opinion has moved overwhelmingly in favor of relocating army bases. The Israeli government, the Israel Land Administration, and the local authorities are all in agreement that there is a tremendous shortage of land available for construction of apartments, particularly in central Israel.
The properties used up by IDF bases are part of the ongoing battle for the “hidden gold.” The huge economic potential of the available real estate has been estimated at over NIS 90 billion (roughly $26 billion), and this has caused the huge spur in land sales. The ILA, which has promised the Defense Ministry an advance sum of NIS 3 billion, announced recently that as long as IDF camps are not marketed, it will not pay the advance. This was confirmed by the ILA chairman, Bentzi Lieberman, after his agency signed a memorandum of understanding with the Defense Ministry and the budget chiefs in the Finance Ministry.
|Number of housing units||
Name of Camp
Camp Horodezky, Ramat Gan
Camp Tel Hashomer
Sirkin Base, Petah Tikva
Keren Hakirya Compound
Sde Dov Airport
Sharon Military Industries
Camp 80, Pardes Hana-Karkur
Camp Kurdani, Kiryat Motzkin
The agreement signed between the two sides deals specifically with the relocation and marketing of two especially “hot” properties. The first is the Keren Hakirya compound, or what is also commonly referred to as “the real estate holy trinity” that lies on the corner of Menachem Begin Road and Shaul Hamelech Boulevard in Tel Aviv.
This property stretches across 9 acres that are slated for gradual evacuation. The armty will be the clearing out of 3 acres beginning in early 2014, which will be used to house a new light rail station. Another half acre will be cleared out during the course of 2015, and the rest of the area – roughly 8 acres – will be cleared out by the end of 2016. The plan is being advanced and jointly overseen by the Tel Aviv Municipality. It also includes the construction of a commercial highriser with 540 housing units.
The Kanarit Compound on the corner of Kaplan and Leonardo da Vinci Streets on the western side of the Kirya is also likely to be marketed. This property, which currently houses part of the Defense Ministry headquarters, will soon include 300 new apartments in two 44-story buildings.
Another “hot” property that is about to go on the market and is quite controversial is the Tzrifin base. Authorities are prepared to evacuate 275 acres of land for the construction of 17,000 apartments as well as 1.3 million square meters of commercial space. According to plans, 105 acres will be cleared out by the end of 2015 in the first stage of the plan, with 7,000 new apartments slated to be built in Rishon Letzion. As part of the land clearance, planners are going to build an initial 3,500 apartments that are expected to win approval in the Planning and Building Committee toward the end of 2014.
Camp Glilot is also slated for market, with 12,000 housing units and commercial centers expected to be built, starting with an initial phase where 3,840 units will be marketed.
Another very attractive property is the Sharon Military Industries Compound, which stretches across 1,865 acres (1,200 of them in the main gated complex). This area lies within the municipal boundaries of Ramat Hasharon, Herzliya, and Hod Hasharon. It is anticipated to one day house 23,000 new apartments, 8,000 acres of commercial space, 800 acres of public space, and 1.65 million square meters for public institutions
Planners are also preparing to build 16,000 more housing units on 350 acres of land that currently house the Sde Dov Airport in north Tel Aviv (with some of the profits going to the Defense Ministry). Camp 80 in Pardes Hana-Karkur will make way for 1,030 new apartments. The Ganim Complex in Ramat Gan will soon be cleared out for 1,200 new apartments. The Sirkin Base in Petach Tikva will soon be home to 12,000 new apartments and 30,000 square meters of commercial space. The northern part of the Tel Hashomer camp will house 2,033 new apartments as well as 11,786 offices on a total of 270 dunams, all of which lies within the municipal boundaries of Ramat Gan. The eastern section of Tel Hashomer is slated to house an additional 2,800 new apartments.
“This is an issue that is of utmost importance,” Uri Ariel said before assuming the post of Housing Minister. “People have gotten the impression that the IDF is an army with a country, and the many properties [that it owns] in the city centers have an impact on the cost of living for all of us. The situation cannot remain as it has been over here for the past 60 years. It is inconceivable for the IDF to continue to hold onto so much land when it has no need for it.”
The Israeli government has allocated more than $500 million for the construction of the massive IDF Officers Training and Instruction base in the northern Negev, that will house many of the army’s camps and divisions that being relocated. The project is part of a comprehensive plan to relocate IDF bases to the Negev, and its objective is twofold: freeing up valuable property in the center of the country currently occupied by the army, and expediting the development of the Negev.
Some of the bases and camps being relocated from the middle of the country will move to the north. The factory that assembles Israel’s famed Merkava tank in Tel Hashomer will move to N’eura, at the foot of Mt. Carmel. Sde Dov will be relocated to two sites – the landing space at Ein Shemer, and the Uvda base in the Negev. Glilot, Tzrifin, and Sirkin will be relocated to the Negev junction and the Be’er Sheva region, as will the Technical High School in Haifa.
It is estimated that the relocation of all IDF bases will make way for the construction of more than 100,000 housing units from the high-value center of Israel. This will address the major housing shortage that is plaguing the State today.
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 firstname.lastname@example.org.
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