Tel Aviv's Iconic and Disorderly Carmel Market May Get Face Lift

Plans include controlling the mix of businesses and concentrating specific types of merchants in designated areas

Tel Aviv's Carmel Market, June 2017.
Ofer Vaknin

Will Tel Aviv’s iconic but somewhat chaotic open-air Carmel Market be undergoing a transformation? Will it get fixed hours, air-conditioning, uniform stall design and signage in the market and on surrounding streets?

Plans developed by the city for the market were due to be presented to planning officials on Monday, but apparently business owners weren’t aware of the meeting until they read about it in TheMarker on Sunday.

>> Tel Aviv's most exciting street food is in the Carmel Market's backyard <<

The protested their lack of input and eventually convinced City Engineer Oded Gvuli to postpone the meeting indefinitely. The municipality put out a statement on Monday saying no plan had been finalized and that it would work with local businesses to do that.

Tel Aviv's Carmel Market, June 2017.
Ofer Vaknin

Regardless, Tel Aviv is determined to exert some control over the development of Carmel Market, which has evolved haphazardly over the years. Despite the protests Monday, officials say they have been meeting with local merchants, who have been told that, subject to their approval, a roof may also be put on the main thoroughfare of the market. The frontage of each stall will be limited to a width of 1.5 meters (about five feet).

The plan officials have been talking about calls for the market to be divided according to the type of merchandise sold, relegating the sale of fish and meat to a side street rather than the main thoroughfare, for example. There will be a limit of 10 restaurants and cafes with seating in each section of the market, and they will only be located on street corners. Although business hours will vary by type, restaurants will be required to be open all day.

The new rules are designed to preserve a mix of businesses and to prevent it from becoming a food mall like Tel Aviv’s faltering Sarona Market or the Rothschild-Allenby marketplace, whose owner has gone bankrupt.

The changes will take place in stages. In addition to the transformation of the market’s main thoroughfare and some adjoining streets, the plan calls for massive construction in the wider area.

Tel Aviv's Carmel Market, June 2017.
Ofer Vaknin

An adjacent area known as the Gaza market, which is now home to small groceries, spice stores and pickle stands, will be the site of a building whose ground floor will have stores and public restrooms while upper floors will house what is described as “enclosed air-conditioned commercial space for the public at large.”

In other words, the building will be a small shopping mall and performance space. Its stores and restaurants would compete with the businesses in the market itself. The municipality has not said whether the businesses in the new building will be taken into account in controlling the mix of businesses.

The goal is to preserve the market’s “special character but at the same time making it more accessible and cleaner, with a supply of parking and activity that will attract larger numbers of customers and visitors.”