Tel Aviv’s central bus station may be going out of service, according to a preliminary plan for the city approved by a local building committee this week.

Bus lines would be relocated to two terminals in the north and south of the city — on Arlozorov Street, for northbound buses, and at the Holon junction, for southbound buses.

As for the station itself, there is talk of turning it variously into an employment center, a hotel and residential buildings — a move that could add some 35,000 housing units to the city.

The idea is part of a larger revitalization agenda for the city to be implemented between now and the year 2025. One of the main themes of the plan is the creation of new housing units while preserving open space.

Part of the impetus for vacating the bus station, a looming edifice in the south of the city, is to clean up the downtrodden neighborhoods that surround it. The station, urban planners say, has a negative effect on the area, partly because of its sheer size. Indeed, it was the largest in the world until 2010 — when New Delhi’s bus station surpassed it — at 230,000 square meters.

The neighborhoods on both sides of the station, Neveh Sha’anan (tranquil oasis) and Shechunat Hativkah (“neighborhood of hope”), are two of the poorest, most crime-ridden neighborhoods in the country. They are home to many migrant workers and refugees from East Africa and Asia, and drug rings and prostitutes are known to operate in the area.

The departures platform at the Tel Aviv bus station (photo credit: Gili Yaari/Flash90)

The departures platform at the Tel Aviv bus station (photo credit: Gili Yaari/Flash90)

The master plan also call for: turning the Reading power station near the Yarkon River, owned by the Israel Electric Company, into a cultural center; adding public housing projects in south Tel Aviv, which would require the approval of the Israel Lands Administration; changing La Guardia Street, in the southern, Russian-immigrant-populated Yad Eliyahu neighborhood, into a new shopping promenade that would resemble Dizengoff Street in north Tel Aviv; and turning Einstein Street in the upscale Ramat Aviv section of north Tel Aviv into a bustling city street.

Historic buildings in the “White City” — a name UNESCO gave the city that harks back to its establishment at the beginning of the 19th century — would be preserved.