Saturday, July 12, 2008

A small victory

This week, a small but determined group of local citizens succeeded (at least temporarily) in blocking plans to construct a 30 storey tower in our neighbourhood. In the wall of planned towers surrounding Neve Tzedek in the illustration above (click to enlarge) , the tower in question - Niva Tower - would be the first on the top right hand side.

In a rare flurry of activity, "action committees" of Neve Tzedek and Florentin joined forces to submit a writ of opposition to the plan which was signed by numerous local residents. They also made a convincing presentation to the local planning committee which decided to recommend to the regional planning committee not to proceed with the plans until the municipality submits a master plan for the whole area.

street in Neve Tzedek

If the regional committeee agrees (we'll know on July 21) the municipality, instead of authorising individual towers - thereby carrying out a creeping Manhattanization of this low -rise area - will at least have to show the public what's in store for it. The hope is that once the wall of towers, planned to separate Neve Tzedek from Florentin, is fully exposed, and a full hearing is given to local residents, the planning authorities will scale down the (much needed) development of the area to a size that we can all live with (what's wrong with 10 storeys?)

Meanwhile, the illustration at the top (from the Neve Tzedek action committtee site) shows how the municipality would like to see the area. Neve Tzedek would be surrounded on three sides by walls of towers and on the fourth by a new major road artery (the shlavim road) that would bring scores of thousands of cars right past the neighourhood's borders and from there straight into the already jammed city centre. In his enthusiasm to bring more cars into Tel Aviv mayor Huldai is (predictably) out of step with succesful urban planners all over the world.

Perhaps the shame and regret reportedly felt by some members of the regional planning committee for approving the grotesque Neve Tzedek (Nehushtan) tower (above - that casts a shadow in winter over the rooftop) will prevail and Huldai will be forced to scrap the whole megalomanic plan.

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