ISRAEL AT WAR - DAY 140

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Jerusalem moves forward with urban renewal plans in key neighborhoods

Green light for makeover of Katamon, Arnona and Kiryat HaYovel to deliver homes, services and public space

Kiryat Yovel, April 2022. (By Bar - Own work, CC BY-SA 3.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=124376597)
Kiryat Yovel, April 2022. (By Bar - Own work, CC BY-SA 3.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=124376597)

Plans for major upgrades to three historic Jerusalem neighborhoods were given the go-ahead this week, as the city hopes to add 850 new homes in Katamonim, Kiryat HaYovel, and Arnona.

According to a report (Hebrew) in local news outlet Kol Hair, the plans also include commercial and office space, new public buildings, and open space.

Although the Katamonim neighborhood consists of low-rise buildings, many dating from the early 20th century, the city is moving ahead with plans to add two 32-story buildings offering 300 new homes on San Martin Street. Of these, 60 will be small apartments of up to 55 square meters (592 square feet), of which there is a general shortage in Jerusalem.

The towers will also have space for shops and offices, while the roofs will be a green space open both to residents and the general public, according to the plans which also promise a children’s daycare center and a synagogue. The existing four- and five-story buildings in the area (with some 85 homes) will be renovated as part of the project.

In the Arnona neighborhood, three 26-story buildings will be constructed on Shalom Yehuda Street, according to the plans, delivering 385 homes, 77 of them small apartments. These buildings will also be designed to offer space for shops, public buildings, and community services. Plans to upgrade the area promise to expand roads and parks for easier resident access to the light rail on Hebron Road. At the moment residential buildings in the area are four or five stories high.

In Kiryat HaYovel, a 30-story tower is planned on Haim Habib Street, bringing 178 new homes to the area, 32 of them small apartments. There will also be a community center, wider roads, and a kindergarten, to replace four- to five-story residential buildings on the site.

Housing prices in Jerusalem rose by 15.9% by November 2022 compared to the previous year, according to the Central Bureau of Statistics. These rises are to a large extent driven by scarcity; new building is limited and the city’s population is growing steadily.

In 2022, 971,800 people were estimated to be living in Jerusalem, an increase of two percent in just two years. Those born in Jerusalem tend not to move out of the city as they become adults. Average salaries in Israel’s capital are almost 20% lower than the country as a whole, according to the CBS.

Much of the housing built over recent years, often through renovations to existing buildings using the TAMA 38 framework, has created luxury apartments that are unaffordable for local residents and are snapped up by foreign property investors and second-home owners.

A master plan for the Jerusalem area has emphasized the need to build upwards in order to meet existing and future demand for housing. A separate 40-story building for Kiryat HaYovel is already in the planning pipeline, and a 30-story tower is currently under construction in Talpiot.

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