Atlantic Cities

Jerusalem Bets on a Skyscraper Forest

Jerusalem Bets on a Skyscraper Forest
FarhiZafrir/YouTube

If a city wants job growth, it also needs job space growth -- office towers and business areas have to be built to accommodate the new jobs a city wants. In Israel, officials are fully embracing the "if you build it they will come" philosophy with recently approved plans that will plop 12 high-rise towers in one concentrated district in Jerusalem, creating space for more than 40,000 workers. According to the Jerusalem Post, the 24- to 33-story buildings will all rise in one compact area, not coincidentally located near the terminus of a new high speed rail line set to open in 5 years.

Officials are hopeful that the new skyscrapers will provide an economic boost to this part of town. Though the projects include a mix of residential and hotel space, they're estimating the office space in the project will help bring about 40,000 new jobs in the area. The plan has been in the works for about three-and-a-half years and includes a variety of plaza spaces and transportation linkages. The project encompasses the existing road network and emphasizes its connection to the high speed rail station that will open nearby. The video below shows how the project could look when completed:

The new rail line has been under construction since 2001 and is expected to open in 2017. It will travel about 36 miles over a complex route of tunnels and elevated rails, cutting travel times between the two cities to about 28 minutes.

The new high rises will also be located near two light rail lines in Jerusalem as well as the central bus station. Officials are hoping the new towers will serve as a central and accessible jobs site in the region. But not everybody is so excited about transforming this historic city.

The Local Committee approved the project with only one abstention. Opposition head Pepe Alalu (Meretz) said that while he generally supports the project, he is concerned that there is not enough housing and that the buildings are too high.

“It could be that we’re succeeding with employment and housing, but we’re destroying the nature of Jerusalem,” he said.

Alalu said he was worried that the “block of concrete” that people see as they enter the city would be an inappropriate introduction to the capital, which has maintained the style of low, stone buildings that follow the contour of the hills.

Locals have 60 days to voice any concerns about the project before it faces final approval. Construction could begin within a year. And if all goes as planned, there may be a new high rise jobs center awaiting the first high speed rail passengers when they arrive in 2017.

Image: YouTube user

Nate Berg is a freelance reporter and a former staff writer for The Atlantic Cities. He lives in Los Angeles. All posts »

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