Tuesday, March 8, 2011

Tel Aviv port to finally get long awaited facelift

The 'Yarkon Peninsula' agreement for the purchase and development of the eastern port by Atarim has now been completed. The aim is to open the restored port within a year. According to the plan, the port would become the flagship tourism spot of the 'city that never stops'. Luxury hotels in the Cannes style will replace the garages and Montana ice cream, a marina will be there for docking yachts and the old Maccabiah stadium will become a family recreation center.

They will join clubs, restaurants, galleries and performance halls, a commercial center and an additional 1,000 parking spaces outside of the port area with shuttles going back and forth. A boardwalk will connect the two banks of the Yarkon River and the famous 'flying camel' statue from the historical 'Eastern Fair' of 1936 will be returned to the port's entrance.

Atarim purchased the area in a three stage deal. NIS 35 million ($9.52 million) were paid at this stage. An additional sum is to be paid, or returned subject to an updated evaluation of the property's worth – in seven and 13 years. A surveyor made the current evaluation for Atarim which determined that the value of one dunam (0.247 acres) of Tel Aviv port property is worth $6 million. Ataraim is planning to turn the site into Tel Aviv's largest and leading entertaining spot with expectations of 500,000 visitors every weekend. Atarim, the company responsible for the city's beaches, the northern port and the marina, bought the controlling stake and the properties of the Tel Aviv Development Company, who is responsible for the eastern side of the port.

The ownership of the port was divided between three companies; Atarim owns the northern side, the Tel Aviv Development Company owns the eastern side, which was sold to Atarim by the Jewish Agency and KKL, and the Marine Trust Ltd. owns the western side. The man behind the deal is the Director General of Atarim Itamar Shimoni, who is already planning the next phase: An expropriation letter against the Marine Trust which is being put together by the Harzog-Fox-Neeman Law firm based on a historic expropriation order, in order to turn the Tel Aviv port into one unified stretch of land managed by Atarim. The Tel Aviv Development Company was established in 1937. Wednesday's move, which saw Atarim take ownership of the Development Company, decreases the number of owners of the port area. The negotiations went on for four years, led by Atarim chairman Herzl Shalem, Director General Shimoni and supported by Tel Aviv Mayor Ron Huldai.

Meanwhile, efforts are being made to complete the regional zoning plans. The goal: provide luxury hotel rooms in a city where the hotel room shortage is huge, as is the demand. Alfred Akirov has already declared his interest in building a hotel there, following the Mamilla hotel in Jerusalem as well as his Paris and London hotel ventures. The main battle will be against the legendary Montana ice cream shop, the city's main hotspot in the 1960s. Its owners will probably not give up the historic spot easily. Atarim intends to vacate the shop and an additional 70 properties, mainly garages and manufactories. "Montana can't stay," says Shimoni. "The new look doesn't fit in with such an outdated structure. The center will be completely recreation focused." Director general of the Marine Trust, Moshe Hendels said in response: "There is an expropriation decision from 1973 but nothing was done about it for 38 years. The Marine Trust has been managing the port since 1936. It fulfilled the expropriation purposes which is no longer useful. When the demand comes along, I assume tat the board of directors will convene and oppose the move."

Source Ynet

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