Gentrification Is About to Destroy Tel Aviv's Main Market Too

Tel Aviv's mayor has publicized a plan to renovate part of the Carmel Market for the sake of 'the coming generations.' But behind the words lurks a process that will destroy the last remnant of Tel Aviv of yore

Naama Riba
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A simulation showing how the western side of the Carmel Market will look after the city's plan to renovate it.
A simulation showing how the western side of the Carmel Market will look after the city's plan to renovate it. Credit: Zionov Vitkin Architects
Naama Riba

Earlier this month Tel Aviv Mayor Ron Huldai posted the news on his Facebook page that the western part of the Carmel Market, which is adjacent to the parking lot next to Gan Hakovshim, is about to be renovated. This is a new incarnation of an existing plan that the municipality has been working on for over a decade.

Huldai noted that “The plan contains an important message for the city – on the one hand, it will preserve the market’s charm and its unique nature, and on the other it will enable it to continue to flourish as an attractive center of commerce and tourism, by improving the public space.”

Huldai wrote this after the Carmel Market plan was approved by the District Planning and Building Committee. But anyone with experience in reading planning documents will find slogans here that are similar to those included in every project that presumes to rehabilitate an unregularized area in the city that does not “fit in” with the Israeli planning and construction laws.

In this case, too, what we have is a repeat attempt to fit every building, complex and market into a rigid mold. The renovation of the market is being carried out by Tsionov Vitkon Architects, which has planned schools in the city and is planning the transformation of the Ha’aliyah Street Market into a country club.

The Carmel Market. It's hard to find any place in Tel Aviv that has undergone a process of "regularization" without having its character totally erased. Credit: Ohad Zwigenberg

“This plan is designed to meet public needs, which change over time, and to update the construction directives for public buildings and institutions, while making optimal use of the land allocated to them,” according to the plan. “Everything is being done out of an overall view of the development of the city and thinking about future generations.”

In addition, the aims and features of the plan were spelled out. These include “regularization of the existing assets in the planning area,” “development of squares and shaded seating areas,” “[building)] an infrastructure for planting significant shade trees,” and “building public toilets and providing instructions on the subject of waste disposal.” All these of course will be achieved parallel to “preserving the character of the market and improving the public space.”

But hiding behind the lofty words “regularization,” “development,” “optimal use of the land,” improving the space” and “dealing with blights and illegal construction” – are other steps that include taxidermy, gentrification and a change in populations – of both merchants and visitors. Processes of this kind have taken place in many places in the city, including Old Jaffa, The Old Train Station (Mitcham Hatachana) complex and Sarona, and are happening in neighborhoods facing evacuation, such as Givat Amal and Kfar Shalem. It’s hard to point to a place in Tel Aviv that has undergone “regularization” whose previous character has not been erased. Not every place can be dealt with by means of up-to-date planning methods.

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