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Plans Underway, Experts Convened, to Revolutionize Jerusalem by the Year 5800 (2039)

Jerusalem Master Plan

Jerusalem Master Plan
Photo Credit: Jerusalem 5800

The sale of a 185-room hotel at the entrance of Jerusalem on August 16 was not just a 17.5 million dollar real estate acquisition by Australian multi-millionaire Kevin Bermeister, but one investment in a broader and more calculated strategy to make Jerusalem a global tourism capital.

In an interview with the Jewish Press’s Yishai Fleisher, Bermeister, founding investor in Skype, founder of file-sharing network Kazaa, and builder of Australia’s largest video game distributor, discussed Jerusalem5800, his $30 billion dollar, 28 year project to revolutionize the city and quintuple its number of annual visitors.

Bermeister With Israel Finance Minister Yuval Steinitz discussing Jerusalem 5800

Bermeister With Israel Finance Minister Yuval Steinitz discussing Jerusalem 5800

“I’ve been coming to this city for 7 or 8 times 5 or 6 times a year… I’ve been walking the streets learning about the city and I’m fascinated by it, I love learning the I love the history, I love the archaeology, I love the Jewish culture, I’ve become more religious, there’s many, many aspects to my fascination with this city,” Bermeister told Fleisher.  Yet the fact that history and culture-rich Jerusalem has not advanced into a world class city the likes of New York City or Paris bothered Bermeister.  And he decided to do something about it.

Together with a team of activists, engineers, architects and environmental and demographics experts, Bermeister began work on a grandiose vision for the modern-ancient city, and entitled it Jerusalem 5800, after the beloved city and the turn of the Jewish century which will occur in less than 28 years on the Jewish calendar.

Much of the plan, made public at Jerusalem5800.com, revolves around taking the visitor on a historic progression through the city, starting in the west and working toward the south – which means redefining the entrance to the capital.

“I am a personal fan of the city reorienting its entrance from the west towards the south.  I think the south is the traditional entrance to the city from the time of Abraham, and in fact, it’s the right approach for tourists who are coming here to learn about the city,” Bermeister said.  “If you approach the Old City from the south, you begin your journey three and a half thousand years ago, and as you progress up towards the north, towards the Western Wall, the Kotel, you arrive at a period two thousand years ago, and then you can progress to the modern city which is of course in our present day.”

When they come, tourists of Jerusalem in the year 5800 (2039 on the Gregorian calendar), will enjoy an advanced public transportation system and will benefit from significantly more travel accommodations.

“I realized that industry here has not really fully developed, it’s not catered to the extent that it is in other cities, and I started to look at tourism specifically… in the last 10 years, only 300 hotel rooms have been built.  Once I discovered that fact, the light bulb went off…”

That burst of inspiration was partly the realization that investors stand to gain tremendous amounts by buying stakes in everything to do with Jerusalem tourism – particularly hotels which Bermeister hopes will house 10-12 million visitors a year by 5800, up from the current 2-3 million.

Bermeister is the first to admit that many of the projects Jerusalem 5800 are focused on making a profit for investors.

“The Leonardo hotel, for example, was one of those properties that we identified early. At the entrance to the city, adjacent to large zoning changes in Binyanei HaUma – which has recently been announced by the city – that would increase the density of building and perhaps provide us the opportunity to increase the density of zoning on our property and therefore improve the return on investment to our investors,” Bermeister said.

“[Jerusalem 5800] is a private/public partnership plan, and we’re trying to… develop the city into the future based on the prioritized return on investment to investors.  So [we’re focusing on] those projects that will be most interesting to investors the soonest.”

The hope is that more money will mean more progress for Jerusalem.  Jerusalem 5800 aims to “continue to encourage the development of a fund that would be supported by many more investors around the world who could put their funding and finance concentration into Jerusalem and into Jerusalem building,” said Bermeister.

But Jerusalem 5800 is not without its challenges.  Progress can be halting because of Jerusalem’s atypical status under the jurisdiction of both the city’s mayor and the prime minister of Israel.  The interests of various ministries and planning authorities must also be taken into consideration.

Not to mention the will of God.  “Everything we do anticipates a possible future – please God, there will be a Temple and people will come three times a year to Jerusalem,” Bermeister said.

“But the 28 year plan really focuses on the what we know and what we can do something about in physical terms in the city today.  Preparation of the city, taking advantage of the existing growth in global tourism, for which Israel is not obtaining its market share, and really to focus on making sure that we do obtain our market share of inbound tourism by addressing the issues of the Jerusalem city center and access to the Holy Basin.”

“So like Jews around the world who pray three times a day and sometimes a lot more, that the Temple will in our lifetimes become a reality, [the Temple] would become an amplification, a significant amplification of the present planning,” Bermeister said.  “But in any event, 5800 would enable that thinking and enable us to cope with that amplification….it also looks to the future and hopefully will enable the city to be ready for an event such as the Temple.”

“I’m looking forward to a very bright future and I think Israel and Jerusalem are key to the examples that …  Jewish people can set in the world, the way of thinking, the way of acting, and I think we have a responsibility to project in the world the way to make the world a better place.”

The hi-tech innovator’s plans, already 2 years in progress, include a Jerusalem regional airport in the Judean desert near Jericho, and underground traffic systems with service to the Old City.

About the Author: Malkah Fleisher is a graduate of Cardozo Law School in New York City. She is an editor/staff writer at JewishPress.com and co-hosts a weekly Israeli FM radio show. Malkah lives with her husband and two children on the Mount of Olives in Jerusalem.


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7 Responses to “Plans Underway, Experts Convened, to Revolutionize Jerusalem by the Year 5800 (2039)”

  1. Liad Bar-el says:

    Bermeister, let’s hope that by the year 5800, people will not be caught in the money marketing mongrel mindset but rather will be doing that which gets everyone closer to G-d. Time for Bermeister to break out of his billionaire brainless buying bullions box and focus on that which is worth more and cost nothing.

  2. This did not strike me as "brainless buying", but rather investing with a purpose of causing people to want to be part of building Jerusalem. Which will, in turn, make Jerusalem more accessible to the millions of pilgrims who want to invest spiritually in the holy city.

  3. Reuven Prager says:

    As Israel prepares for the challenges facing it – now is the time to support the souls of the young men and women of the IDF who are defending the People of Israel in the Land of Israel by providing them with a pure silver Holy Half Shekel…to fulfill the commandment from Exodus 30:11-16 – a soldier's commandment.

    ShekelIDF.org is the online affiliate of MaShaL – Mahatzit Shekel L'chayal (Half Shekel for a Soldier), a nonsectarian program sponsored by Beged Ivri in Jerusalem. Its goal is to place a pure silver Holy Half Shekel into the hands of every soldier serving in the Israel Defense Forces, annually.

    Please visit shekelidf.org to sponsor a soldier.
    http://shekelidf.org/

  4. Charlie Hall says:

    Very few cities in the world as small as Jerusalem have underground public transit. It really isn't cost effective in low density communities, and Jerusalem will never be a city of high rise buildings.

  5. Yehuda Cohen says:

    Bermeister: “I realized that industry here has not really fully developed, it’s not catered to the extent that it is in other cities, and I started to look at tourism specifically… in the last 10 years, only 300 hotel rooms have been built. Once I discovered that fact, the light bulb went off…”
    “That burst of inspiration was partly the realization that investors stand to gain tremendous amounts by buying stakes in everything to do with Jerusalem tourism – particularly hotels which Bermeister hopes will house 10-12 million visitors a year by 5800, up from the current 2-3 million.”
    “Bermeister is the first to admit that many of the projects Jerusalem 5800 are focused on making a profit for investors.”
    “Everything we do anticipates a possible future – please God, there will be a Temple and people will come three times a year to Jerusalem,” Bermeister said.
    Trying to make money off the coming of the Temple?! And what if the Temple doesn’t come by 5800? Then, there should not be alternative plans to turn all those motel rooms into low income housing for the poor new Jewish immigrants? Now, IMO, this is what would bring the coming of the 3rd Temple sooner rather than setting up motels at every city corner. Presently, this project seems to be of a hot dog stand mentality and so not entirely brainless but still carries traces of money mongering … like the after taste of toxic exhaust fumes from eating street corner hot dogs. :-)

  6. Kevin Bermeister says:

    Liad – I share your 5800 objectives and that which cost nothing. Moshiach on a Donkey is a concept in our Jewish culture, which you may or may not be familiar with. I'm not sure how you segment your thinking, but I see an integrated procession that gets everyone closer to G-d that includes helping poor people to earn a dignified living in a vocation that is directed toward realizing Torah objectives as expressed by our prophets and explained by our sages.

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