The Malcha area of Yerushalayim was selected for the Jerusalem branch of IKEA, but the procrastination and delay in obtaining the necessary permits has compelled decision-makers in IKEA to seek a new venue. The new venue decided upon is not too far from the capital, Beit Shemesh.
It has been two years, and company officials simply became fed up and began searching for another venue. Beit Shemesh has been quite accommodating, and as a result, the decision was made to abandon the Jerusalem branch, at least for the time being.
During the past two years, city officials have been working to find a suitable location for the store, seeking to push the commercial market in Givat Shaul, which will be vacated when the market relocated to Atarot. IKEA also rejected the Egged parking lot on Derech Baram near the Talpiot Industrial area, a 60 dunam (15 acres) plot. Finally, Malcha Technological Park was selected, and IKEA began moving ahead with plans. The store was to be 27,000 square meters and everyone was smiling. However, the area is zoned for high-tech and this required a zoning change by the Israel Lands Authority, and the problems begin. It is explained the permit involves a very large area and this resulted in major delays. In the interim, IKEA representatives began probing alternate locations and they made their way to Beit Shemesh.
So, the story ends with a loss for Jerusalem as far bringing the major shopping attraction and the loss of hundreds of jobs. There is also the little matter of arnona property tax on an area close to 30,000 square meters. For Beit Shemesh Mayor Moshe Abutbul, it is all smiles.
(YWN – Israel Desk, Jerusalem)