News & Updates

Downtown urban renewal

Jerusalem is constantly developing, and the city center has seen a construction boom in recent years, with many new plazas and pedestrian thoroughfares, thanks partly to the work of the Jerusalem Transportation Master Plan team. The transportation revolution has not only affected the traffic in the city, but has completely changed the downtown area. In fact, the renewal of the city center was a major goal of the Light Rail project: the Light Rail's first route was chosen not only because it follows a high-volume public transportation route but also because it traverses the historic city center, which needed to be invigorated.

The waning of Jerusalem’s historic city center over the years (similar to the decline of other city centers in Western countries) is a by-product of well-known urban processes, including:

  • The suburbia phenomenon – the establishment of large residential neighborhoods far from downtown.

  • he strengthening of secondary commercial and entertainment centers such as Givat Shaul, Talpiot, the Malcha Mall, Pisgat Ze’ev Mall and others.

  • The reduced attractiveness of the center of town.

  • Accessibility difficulties – the city center had reached its limit for allowing access to private vehicles.

The staff of the City Engineer prepared a comprehensive Master Plan for developing the city center, from the walls of the Old City to Binyanei HaUmah (International Convention Center). Unprecedented construction and development plans have been drafted for each area. In the city center, construction will be promoted for commercial, tourism and residential building and projects, particularly for higher education, culture and art, which will attract young people and visitors. The Light Rail and the new transportation system will make the city center more accessible and create a safe, pleasant environment for residents and visitors alike.

Eden, a subsidiary of the Jerusalem Development Authority, is upgrading the facades of many downtown streets, to bring back residents, tourism, commerce, employment, entertainment and culture to the city center. Architectural excellence and long-lasting materials of the highest quality, as befits the center of the capital of Israel's capital city, are the mainstay of Eden’s visual design concept. The city center's accessibility to the disabled and other special-needs groups is also a priority.

The development plans for the city center's streets are based on a uniform “street language” that creates a wide variety of streets that together form a single overall picture. This "street language" includes sidewalks paved with natural, durable stone, mainly granite and porfido, 3,000 new trees and modern street lights.
The policy plan was formulated through the combined effort of a multi-disciplinary steering committee and the relevant authorities in the government and the municipality, in order to coordinate and meet the various needs for development, transportation, quality of the environment and preservation. The steering committee was headed by Jerusalem's City Engineer, and the planning team included the architects Aryeh Kotz, Amir Mann, Amir Shinar and David Kroyanker. This plan was adopted in its entirety by Jerusalem's new local Land Planning Program.