(Communicated by the Municipality of Jerusalem Spokesperson)
The Local Planning Committee of the Jerusalem Municipality operates according to equal criteria for all issues of construction permits, without regard to race, creed, gender, religion, or national identity of the resident or property owner. The acquisition of the land that includes the Shepherd Hotel was legal and received the necessary renovation and construction permits.
The Municipality of Jerusalem’s Planning Committee looks only at the congruence of the planning and the law. According to the High Court of Israel, Jews, Muslims, and Christians alike can purchase land in all parts of the city of Jerusalem. For example, there are Arab residents living in French Hill. The Municipality acts in full transparency and has presented the plans, including to the representatives of the British and US Consulates in Jerusalem. Not only were 20 apartments approved, but a number of conditions that include the preservation of the historic structure were prescribed by the committee.
Naftali Levi, Deputy Director of the Department of Building Licensing and Enforcement at the Municipality of Jerusalem, released the following background information on the Shepherd Hotel building in Hebrew earlier today (Sunday, July 19 2009):
The building was built in the 1930s for the Mufti of Jerusalem, Haj Amin Al-Husayni, who was a leader of the Arab Palestinian movement in the 1920s and 1930s and of three waves of riots during this period.
When the British Mandate government deported him, the building was confiscated and turned into a military outpost for the British Army. At the end of the period of the British Mandate, the building was transferred to the ownership of the Hashemite Kingdom of Jordan, which expanded the original structure without affecting it, and the building served as the Shepherd Hotel.
Following the Six Day War, the hotel became the property of the Government of Israel. It was used by the Ministry of Justice and as a district courthouse.
On November 5 1985, C and M properties purchased the building and surrounding land from the Government of Israel. With the beginning of the first Intifada in 1987, the Border Police leased the building and stayed there for about 15 years before moving to their new building alongside Highway One.
Since then, and up to the present, the property has been abandoned.
The land use of this building is part of Plan 2591. This plan was approved in 1982 by the Jerusalem District Committee of the Interior Ministry and stated new planning provisions for the entire neighborhood of Shiek Jarah (an area of 310,000 square meters), including residential areas, recreational areas, public buildings, public institutions, and roads. Following the zoning in this plan, the land use of the property that includes the Shepherd Hotel is designated for residential use.
Building License Request 08/787
Following the zoning of Plan 2591, on November 6th 2008 a request was made to permit construction by the owners of the property, C and M Properties Ltd.
On July 2 2009, the Local Planning Committee of the Jerusalem Municipality approved the request, which included the destruction of the existing buildings on the property, except for the historic structure designated for preservation, and the establishment of two new residential buildings, which include 20 apartments. The project includes underground parking, flat roofs, and a total of two floors above the parking level. The property is zoned for up to 4 floors of residential building. The proposed building plan is for 9 meters above ground level. The area of construction above ground is 3,604.19 square meters and the area for construction underground is 5,769 square meters.
It should be emphasized that as a condition for the building license, the owner must fulfill several conditions decided by the Committee. Before receiving the license, the owner cannot start any kind of work on the location.