Monday, December 15

Attempting to Add Value with Building Rights

Carrot Field: Tel Aviv Developer slang for a lot with no building rights. At least theoretically, all the land started that way. The default state of land under the National Law of Planning and Building is land with no building rights. The act of transforming this land - also known as green land - into buildable land is known as הפשרה - thawing.

In monetary value, a carrot field is considered to be at its minimum level. It usually provides little use to the inhabitants of the city, especially if it is privately held.  Possible uses include parking lots, junkyards, or simply overgrown vacant lots.  When the public owns land with no building rights in or near cities, they are often allocated as parkland. 

Some private and public lots in Tel Aviv are stuck in the process of planning, making them practically unbuildable for the time being. In the urban landscape, these lots are indistinguishable from carrot fields.  One famous example is Kikar HaMedina, the 50 dunam circus in the northeast of the city. 
 This land is held jointly by a large numbers of owners who have only been able to agree on one thing for the last 50 years: the land does not have enough building rights.  Successive plans have been proposed for the lot over the years, all intended to add to the original 150 housing units and reach a point where the owners and their inheritors will be able to agree and build.  Some of these plans have even passed the full gauntlet of local and regional planning boards.  The most recent plan builds 453 luxury apartments in 3 missile-shaped towers.  Luckily for the people of Tel Aviv, this is evidently not enough for the owners groups, and the site remains a large green dog-walking expanse for the time being.  Our largest carrot field.

This phenomenon suggests a new paradigm for establishing protected land reserves and green space in Israel: Divide and distribute the land to a group of citizens with the caveat that they must cooperate in order to build.