Jerusalem Municipality Promotes Housing for Young Couples

Municipality publishes tender for construction of about 1,000 residential units for young families in the Kiryat Hayovel neighborhood, instead of 53 luxury villas.

The Jerusalem municipality last week published a tender for the construction of about 1,000 residential units for young families in the Kiryat Hayovel neighborhood, instead of 53 luxury villas that were supposed to be built there under a previous plan that was scrapped. The construction will form part of an urban renewal project in the Olswanger Street complex (on the slopes of Kiryat Hayovel in the direction of Ein Karem ), for which the municipality will soon publish an urban planning program.

This move accords with the policy of the master plan for the southwest part of the city, which is currently being promoted by the municipality in cooperation with Kiryat Hayovel residents. The plan is to build 320 residential units in five large buildings on an area of 12.5 dunams (about six acres ). Approximately 680 residences will be built on an additional 25 dunams of land owned by the Israel Land Administration.

The change in the plan - from the construction of 53 luxury villas to the construction of 1,000 housing units for young families - was made possible by cooperation between the municipality and residents of the neighborhood and the communal administration, which led to rezoning the land for constructing affordable housing for young families.

In 2010 the ILA wanted to sell the compound it owns for the construction of 53 one-story luxury residential units. Neighborhood residents and the communal administration petitioned the court in order to stop the sales, claiming that building the villas would prevent the initiative for the urban renewal project for residents of the Olswanger complex.

The court accepted the viewpoint of the residents, the communal administration and the Jerusalem municipality, and the ILA agreed to the change in plans. The ILA's consent to append the area it owns to the urban renewal plan is unique and precedent-setting.

In recent years a number of urban renewal plans for young couples have been approved, such as the Hamekasher complex in the Kiryat Moshe neighborhood where 262 residential units are planned, the Hatzionut complex where there are plans for 266 units, and a master plan in the Gonenim neighborhood that allows for the addition of hundreds of residential units by means of urban renewal procedures.

In addition, for the past several months the municipality, through the Jerusalem Development Authority, has been helping residents to receive advice on architectural, social and assessment issues in order to examine proposals by entrepreneurs to implement urban renewal projects.

About two weeks ago the municipality announced the introduction of new criteria for a tender for the construction of dozens of residential units on Gad Street in the Baka'a neighborhood, a project in which about 50 percent of the units are earmarked for young families. The criteria in the project include age (up to 41 ), with priority to students and those with academic degrees who are residents of Jerusalem, and the couple working a total of at least one and a half jobs (150 percent employment ).

Jerusalem Mayor Nir Barkat said yesterday that "the municipality has set itself the goal of developing and expanding housing options for young families in the city. The Kiryat Hayovel neighborhood has been declared a young neighborhood, and we are working to develop solutions for housing, high-quality education and culture, for the benefit of neighborhood residents and the many young people who live there."