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Thursday, July 5, 2012

Plan aims to turn Haifa into ‘the Barcelona of Israel’

National Council for Planning and Construction has approved a waterfront plan that will develop the city’s neglected beach, transforming it into a center for tourism, leisure, trade, and nightlife

Really, what’s the difference between Haifa and Barcelona? They have the same weather, both are coastal cities and both are set against mountains. For now, Haifa’s coastal strip is much more neglected than that of its Catalonian doppelganger, but the city is promising that in a few years, it will be able to offer visitors a Hebrew version of the Barcelona experience.
The National Council for Planning and Construction has approved the municipality’s “Waterfront Plan,” a scheme designed to transform Haifa’s beach. The plan calls to make the western section of the Haifa Port a center for tourism and nightlife, as well as a functioning point of embarkation and arrival for sea travel. The plan calls to develop public spaces, a beach promenade, renovate commercial buildings.
For a start, port activity will be moved from the western to the eastern side. Later, the plan calls to bury the train tracks that bisect the city, separating it from the beach.
City engineer Ariel Waterman says that a period of five years has been allotted to implement the project. Watterman assessed that the Waterfront Plan would cost hundreds of millions of shekels, most of which will go toward renovating the existing warehouses.
“We’re very happy that the government ministries understood the area’s great potential. The fact that the committee members voted unanimously proves that they understand that it’s time to fulfill the great raw potential of Haifa’s city coast, creating an international center for tourism and an economic engine for northern Israel and the rest of the country,” Waterman said.
Haifa Mayor Yona Yahav welcomed the news that the Waterfront Plan had received a green light. “This project dovetails with the municipality’s overall work to revive the lower city, develop the port area and create new foci of activity that will make Haifa one of the leading coastal cities in the world,” he said.