Monday, October 10, 2011

New financing options to accelerate light rail build-up

A pending compromise between the Tel Aviv Municipality and the government proposes greatly increasing building rights in the city to 700-800% from 400% in exchange for a subway. The increased building rights would generate hundreds of millions in taxes for the government and would offset the huge additional cost in building the light rail's Green Line as a subway.

The increased building rights will not necessary apply to the area along a 2.5-kilometer stretch of the Green Line's route between Carlebach Street and the northern end of Ibn Gvirol Street. The 24-kilometer Green Line will run from Rishon LeZion in the south to the Yarkon River in north Tel Aviv, and may later be extended to Herzliya. The line was originally planned as an above-ground light rail, which Tel Aviv Mayor Ron Huldai opposes. The Tel Aviv Municipality said, "The lot in the Kirya area, along the Red Line, is also relevant to the initiative."

A source involved with the project said that preliminary estimates suggest that the increased building rights will be sufficient to finance the NIS 1.5-2 billion cost of the Green Line. The line could result in the construction of 25,000-30,000 new apartments in the Large Lot in the Transyarkon area of north Tel Aviv. The Tel Aviv Municipality and the Ministry of Finance already agree that the Green Line section between Levinski Street in South Tel Aviv and Carlebach Street would be underground, but they have disagreed for years about the stretch north of Carlebach Street. Officially, the ministry consents only to an above-ground line, and insists that the Tel Aviv Municipality finance the extra cost in full for an underground line. The municipality says that this is not possible.

In addition to the Dan Region Light Rail's Red and Green lines, a Purple Line is in the statutory stages, and four bus rapid transit (BRT) lines are planned. The Tel Aviv Municipality said in response, "The municipality believes that it is very important to build the Green Line, at the same time as the Red Line, as a subway between Levinski Street and the Yarkon River. We believe that maximizing the building rights in the Kirya area can generate the financial sources needed. However, talks are only in the initial stages, and we hope that an agreement can be reached to build the Green Line as quickly as possible."

Source Globes

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