US President Donald Trump today notified regional leaders that he had decided to move the US embassy to Jerusalem. The date of the move is still unknown, however, and it is possible that the US will merely announce its recognition of Jerusalem as Israel's capital. Meanwhile, real estate developers are casting covetous eyes at the prime real estate site at 71 Hayarkon Street on which the US embassy in Tel Aviv is located, although it is still unknown whether all or part of the embassy's activity will be moved.
The Tel Aviv municipality today explained that the site was specially zoned for an embassy. Municipality sources said that if an embassy is built in Jerusalem, the US will not necessarily vacate the site of its Tel Aviv embassy. If something else is built on the site, it will be necessary to submit a new plan for rezoning the site. According to a check conducted by "Globes" with the help of land appraiser Nehama Bogin, the recently approved Tel Aviv urban building plan permits the submitting of a residential construction plan for the site. "Construction rights for the site according to the building plan are 500% of the lot's area. In other words, after the usual allocations for public space, what is left is 6,000 square meters of residential construction, the value of which is about NIS 180 million," Bogin said.
Emotions in Jerusalem stirred up by Trump's announcement are still flaring, and some are deeply concerned about the measure. "Globes" reported in 2015 that the Ministry of Absorption and Immigration had renewed a wasteful lease under which it is paying the US embassy high rent for housing 500 immigrants in the prestigious Diplomat Hotel in Jerusalem. In a 2009 report, the State Comptroller severely criticized the Ministry of Absorption and Immigration, which has been paying huge sums from the state treasury since 1991 for the housing complex, located in the luxurious Arnon neighborhood and now owned by the US embassy, when rent in other housing complexes in other areas of Jerusalem is much lower.
Published by Globes [online], Israel Business News - www.globes-online.com - on December 6, 2017
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