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Tel Aviv’s iconic power station to close, become apartments — report

2,400 housing units to be built at site that sits on a prime location, while main generator building, with its single chimney, to be preserved, according to TV news

View of the Reading Power Station and the Yarkon River in Tel Aviv on January 27, 2020. (Gershon Elinson/Flash90)
View of the Reading Power Station and the Yarkon River in Tel Aviv on January 27, 2020. (Gershon Elinson/Flash90)

The Reading Power Station in Tel Aviv, a 1930’s era installation that became an iconic part of the city’s northern landscape, is to be closed and thousands of housing units built on it instead, Channel 12 news reported Tuesday.

The natural-gas power station, which still provides electricity to the area, will be demolished in the next six years and 2,400 homes constructed on the land.

Spread over 100 dunams (24 acres), the site is valued at around NIS 4 billion ($1.2 billion), and is the most expensive real estate land in the country, according to the report.

The single-chimney station building will be preserved and the housing units along with commercial and leisure areas will be built around it.

Multiple meetings between government ministries and the Tel Aviv municipality over the fate of the power station were held before the Finance Ministry decided to include the housing construction plan for the site in the so-called “Arrangements Law,” a bill that is part of the state budget and delineates the many structural, institutional and policy reforms needed to make the numbers work.

A decision to repurpose the site was taken after an inter-ministerial committee found that the station can be closed and the electricity it supplies to north Tel Aviv be provided by other solutions, according to the report.

Earlier this year, the National Infrastructure Committee agreed to deposit plans for a private sector gas-fired power station called Kesem, near Rosh Ha’ayin and the Arab city of Kafr Qasim in the center of the country, overriding the opposition of the previous government’s ministries of energy and environmental protection, as well as municipal authorities.

It also agreed to the furthering of plans for OPC 2, an extension to an existing gas plant, in the northern coastal city of Hadera — also over the opposition of local authorities.

Both plans were deposited, clearing the way for them to be transferred to the relevant district planning committees for comment as well as to be officially opened to the public for comment and objections.

The Reading Power Station was built in 1938 and named after the founding chairman of the precursor to the Israel Electric Corporation, Rufus Daniel Isaacs, a British Jew who was the Marquess of Reading.

At one point it provided a third of the electricity in the then British Mandatory Palestine.

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