The capital city's skyline is going to change beyond recognition after the Jerusalem Planning and Building Committee on Monday approved a plan to build 12 skyscrapers at the city's entrance. The goal is to turn the area around the Binyanei Hauma convention center and central bus station into the capital's main business quarter.
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The estimated cost of the plan is NIS 8.5 billion. Officials say it will add one million square meters of office space to the city, as well as some 40,000 new jobs.
"We're creating a business center in the most accessible place. Combined with a large convention center, tourism and cultural diversity, the city's entrance will become a leading business hub and attract companies, investors and many businesses," Jerusalem Mayor Nir Barkat said Monday.
The plan calls for concentrating the various ministries' district offices in the new center, as well as building 2,000 hotel rooms, high-rise buildings for private offices and a cinema complex. It also calls for expanding Binyanei Hauma.
At a later stage, the municipality intends to build a court complex for the magistrate and district courts and a space for the Jerusalem Prosecutor's Office.
A municipality official said on Monday that the new commercial space is intended to encourage both employment and tourism, and to alleviate the heavy traffic in the city. This would be accomplished by the transfer of ministry offices that are now located in the center of town to the new space. Currently, these offices cause terrible traffic downtown, as well as parking shortages, explained Deputy Mayor Kobi Kahlon.
"Anyone who doesn't have to enter the city shouldn't do so. Leave the historic city to culture and tourism," Kahlon said.
The Planning and Building Committee is also discussing a plan to turn the old ministries' offices, some of which are located in historic buildings, into boutique hotels, Haaretz learned.
The idea to create a huge complex near the city's entrance is based on the area already being Jerusalem's main public transportation hub. The Central Bus Station is there, as is the light-rail line. In addition, a new railway line to Jerusalem and another north-south light-rail line are due to be built at some point in the future.
The plan also calls for digging a tunnel for private cars near Binyanei Hauma, and for building an underground parking lot for some 1,300 parking spaces. Above the lot, a large, eight-dunam plaza will be built for pedestrians. New buildings will be constructed for the Central Zionist Archives and the Israel State Archives.
The plan for the Zionist Archives, approved some three weeks ago, calls for a new, six-floor building, four of which will be underground. The new State Archives will consist of a research and exhibition center. The documents themselves will be relocated to a building to be built in the southern town of Arad, but the main center for browsing documents will remain in Jerusalem.