Tel Aviv Residents Criticize Plans for City’s Atarim Plaza
The month of December saw about 400 residents and business owners in Tel Aviv file their objections with the municipality regarding a development project that has been proposed for the Atarim Square (Kikar Atarim) in the city.
This is an area that comprises of a complex of buildings and public space close to the seafront and for years it has faced a lot of neglect.
There is a vast stone stairway and a large plaza in the area that connect the Tel Aviv promenade and the Ben Gurion Boulevard.
There have been plans under discussion about the development of the area for almost a decade now.
The District Planning and Building Committee in Tel Aviv had given approval for considering the latest development plans back in January.
JTLV Investments led the group of developers that prepared the plans in question. This is a real estate investment company based in Israel, which is backed by private investors and large financial institutions.
According to the proposed plan, they will raze the elevated plaza and the structures it contains for building a complex of buildings.
These will be arranged around the square’s perimeter and they will be lowered to ensure they are level with the area, thereby no longer blocking the view of the sea from the Ben-Gurion Boulevard.
The plan dictates that most of the area, which is currently public, will have two towers that will be 25-story and cover a space of 65,000 square meters and also a third building that will cover 4,800 square meters and be of six stories.
These buildings will offer a combination of commercial/hotel space and residential apartments. According to the developers, there are currently neglected and old structures in Atarim Square.
In fact, they said that some of these have been outright abandoned and a lot of them were inaccessible to those with disabilities and pedestrians.
They argued in their presentation that the ‘urban flow’ of the area is disrupted due to the current condition of Atarim Square and redevelopment can provide urban renewal as well as housing.
According to those who are against the development plans, the last three decades have seen Atarim Square be neglected deliberately.
They claim that no attempt had been made for bringing the area back to life in order to benefit the general public.
When construction of Atarim Square had first began in 1971, it had been briefly referred to as Namir Square and had been envisioned as a tourist hub.
The project had been built in the Brutalist style that had been popular back then and it included a gas station, multi-story car park, restaurants, a glass rotunda, storefronts and an amphitheater.
There had also been another building that had shops and a hotel, but the area experienced consistent decline with criminal organizations infiltrating it and running crime rings.
The opponents claim that their needs and voice is not being considered in the planning process. They claim that building more apartments at top prices will limit the access to the sea and public space.