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Support for urban renewal moves out to Israel’s periphery

Government offers dedicated funding to back population centers that attract fewer private developers

This aerial view shows Katzrin, an Israeli town in the Golan Heights, on December 26, 2021. (Menahem Kahana/AFP)
This aerial view shows Katzrin, an Israeli town in the Golan Heights, on December 26, 2021. (Menahem Kahana/AFP)

The outgoing government approved a budget of NIS 140 million ($42 million) earlier this month to support urban renewal in towns and cities outside Israel’s central region, in a move that recognizes that lower land values in these areas attract fewer private developers without some form of state support.

The funds are intended to help with clearing space for construction in areas across the Negev, Galilee and Golan Heights. They are also intended to subsidize developers of individual projects, working in coordination with local municipalities to offer up to NIS 35 million per project.

Preference will be given to areas where there is increased earthquake or security risk, and where there is high density of older buildings. A selection process will vet potential developers to allow funds to go to projects that deliver maximum value, and ideally in areas where the funding can act as a catalyst to open up multiple project opportunities.

This project is the first output from the joint ministerial team set up in February and led by Construction and Housing Minister Ze’ev Elkin to assess the most effective tools to unlock urban renewal in cities and towns in the so-called periphery.

As he unveiled the funding plans, Elkin said urban renewal was “not a luxury, but a basic need of any city built decades ago… We will make sure that these buds of urban renewal in the periphery will lead to a full-blown renewal boom.”

Elazar Bamberger, Director General of the Government Authority for Urban Renewal, described the plans as “a first step” that can help “change the existing reality…These tools will enable massive activity of urban renewal in these cities as well, by the forces of the free market, as is happening today, with great success, in the center of the country.”

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