Number of Homes in Tel Aviv Could Double After Master Plan Approved

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The Tel Aviv skyline.Credit: David Bachar

Up to 200,000 new housing units could be constructed in Tel Aviv, following the approval of a first-ever master plan for the city.

Last month’s approval by Tel Aviv district planning and building committee follows years of planning efforts, and months of consideration of hundreds of objections to the plan, which had been submitted for public comment.

Although Tel Aviv was formally founded in 1909, until now it never had an overall master plan. The major change in the approved master plan from one submitted two years ago is the substantial expansion of the number of housing units that can be built in the city.

The local planning committee has four months to make the changes to city plans, at which time the new master plan will take effect. Approval of the plan by the district committee came on August 12, but was only made public on the planning authority’s website yesterday.

The plan sets the direction for future development over the next 10 years. It provides a new set of zoning standards, including areas for residential construction, commercial and employment-related spaces, green open space, etc. It also provides for height and density restrictions, along with details regarding major roads.

The new plan is expected to allow up to 125,000 additional housing units (which, in densely populated Tel Aviv, generally means apartments rather than private homes). The mixed use in business areas will include a potential 20,000 housing units. The evacuation of Sde Dov, the small commercial airport in north Tel Aviv, is to provide a neighborhood of some 15,000 units. Another 5,000 are slated for the Neve Sharett East neighborhood, while another 65,000 units are planned for existing older neighborhoods where urban renewal projects are expected to be carried out.

The combination of these provisions and existing plans for 75,000 units could result in potential construction of some 200,000 new housing units – more than the city’s current total of 190,000 housing units.

The plan calls for millions of square meters of new commercial construction, and also provides for new main commercial thoroughfares on Einstein Street in Ramat Aviv and La Guardia Street in the Yad Eliahu neighborhood. It provides for the regulation of public structures, the relocation of Tel Aviv’s current Central Bus Station in the south of the city and a new road that will connect Rothschild Boulevard to the sea.

The approval of the master plan is undoubtedly a historic moment for the city, but the plan itself doesn’t provide enough detail to be the basis for new construction. That detail will be added to the master plan following approval by the local Tel Aviv building committee, which will have the authority to finalize the details without further involvement by the district committee.

Most of the objections to the plan were rejected, including one filed by the bordering southern cities of Bat Yam and Holon, which complained about the lack of proportionality between commercial and residential areas in the blueprint. The two cities said it would harm commercial areas elsewhere in the Tel Aviv metropolitan area.

Tel Aviv was designated a UNESCO World Heritage Site for the city center’s large number of Bauhaus-style buildings, a kind of architecture that was brought to Tel Aviv prior to the establishment of Israel by German-Jewish architects. Critics of the master plan claimed the restrictions on building heights in these areas, with a maximum of eight storeys, was too limited, but the restriction remains in the final plan.

Another objection from environmental groups was that too much residential construction was being allowed in which residents would have their own private plots of land, particularly in the northeast of the city. The groups said this was wasteful and would reduce reserves of open space. A planning researcher accepted the objection in part, and it was decided that plans for the northeast of the city would be reconsidered in the future.

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