Photo Credit: Neta / Wikimedia
Malha Mall in Jerusalem, 2007

Residents of Jerusalem living near the Malha Mall were dismayed to learn of plans to develop the area into a major municipal and commercial area that will soon triple the size of the current Jerusalem Malha Mall.

The mall, built in 1993 and operated by Azrieli Group, includes a huge bomb shelter and synagogue and has very tight security, and easy road access, making it a popular destination for Jerusalem’s shoppers.

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The expansion plan, drawn up by the Kolker Kolker Epstein architectural firm, was approved this past June and calls for 28 floors of sheltered housing for the elderly above the existing mall, plus the addition of 1,404 new parking spaces there as well. The new and existing commercial areas will have 168,600 square meters – 3.5 times the existing area – and will be comprised of two office buildings – 26 floors and 15 floors in the southwest and northeast towers respectively as well as a new mall with three commercial floors containing 260 stores, in addition to 2,000 parking places encompassing 48,000 square meters.

But that’s only one part of the plan. There’s more.

The city also plans to build a bridge over the Begin Highway (Route 50) to connect the Malha Mall & Office Complex with Teddy Stadium and the Payis Basketball Arena.

In addition to the bridge, a national sports square is to be built between Teddy Stadium and Payis Arena, to unite all the facilities together with the nearby Tennis Courts.

The residents of the nearby Malha neighborhood are not happy about all this.

They describe these plans, which were first presented in July 2018 to the Jerusalem District Planning and Building Committee and to the neighborhood residents, as “catastrophic.”

According to the Globes business news site, neighborhood resident Amos Kollek, son of the late Jerusalem Mayor Teddy Kollek (for whom Teddy Stadium is named), wrote together with his wife Osnat in their objections:

“We are furious about and object to this disproportionate plan that will finish off the quality of life for the residents of Malha. Mass events bring to us noise and air pollution from car exhaust and excessive use of the roads in our neighborhood, effecting the fabric of our lives and impose a major and unbridled burden on our neighborhood.”

Jerusalem municipality planning department head Ofer Gridinger told Globes, however, that the city has a serious shortage of “employment space” and “Malha is not the only place where we intend to create employment.”

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Hana Levi Julian is a Middle East news analyst with a degree in Mass Communication and Journalism from Southern Connecticut State University. A past columnist with The Jewish Press and senior editor at Arutz 7, Ms. Julian has written for Babble.com, Chabad.org and other media outlets, in addition to her years working in broadcast journalism.
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