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Greek Patriarchate's Jerusalem land plot raises concerns for homeowners' future

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  • Bill Samsonoff
    http://www.haaretz.com/business/greek-patriarchate-s-jerusalem-land-plot-raises-concerns-for-homeowners-future.premium-1.525371?localLinksEnabled=false Greek
    Message 1 of 1 , May 25, 2013
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      http://www.haaretz.com/business/greek-patriarchate-s-jerusalem-land-plot-raises-concerns-for-homeowners-future.premium-1.525371?localLinksEnabled=false

      Greek Patriarchate's Jerusalem land plot raises concerns for homeowners'
      future
      After decades of leasing land to the government, the Greek
      Patriarchate's sale to a private, foreign buyer may signal inflated
      prices ahead for current residents.
      By Ranit Nahum-Halevy | 05:48 23.05.13

      After decades of leasing land to the government, the Greek
      Patriarchate’s sale to a private, foreign buyer may signal inflated
      prices ahead for current residents.

      The Greek Patriarchate of Jerusalem sold off a plot of land in
      Jerusalem, containing hundreds of residential units in dozens of
      buildings, to a foreign buyer.

      The plot, consisting of dozens of dunams between the streets Shay Agnon,
      Hama’apilim and Mavo Ha’oleh in Jerusalem’s Givat Oranim-Rasco
      neighborhood, was sold for tens of millions of shekels. Since the 1970s,
      that land has been leased to a company called Taasiyot Etz Lavod.

      Now the homeowners there may find themselves in a quandary following the
      land sale.

      The Greek Patriarchate holds multiple plots of land around Israel,
      particularly within Jerusalem. Over the years, it leased out this land
      to developers who built thousands of residences, which are currently
      occupied.

      The initial lease agreements stated that once they expired in 1951, the
      rights to the land would return to the patriarchy. But shortly after the
      founding of the state, Israel’s government orchestrated an additional
      100-year lease between the patriarchy and the Jewish National Fund in an
      effort to save homeowners from dealing directly with the patriarchy as
      landlord.

      Over the past several years, however, the patriarchy has not been
      renewing these contracts, choosing to sell off the land instead.

      Two years ago, the patriarchy signed a NIS 80 million deal with a group
      of Jewish investors from Israel and abroad that included most of its
      rights to land within Jerusalem. The buyers included Jerusalem’s Ben
      David family.

      “In this case, the foreign company will eventually be responsible for
      renewing the leases vis-a-vis the homeowners,” says land appraiser Koby
      Bier. “The concern is that since the transaction includes a foreign,
      private company, the homeowners could find themselves facing a demand to
      pay huge sums.

      “The company could decide for instance that the leases are being set
      based on real estate market prices. Currently, average apartments in
      that neighborhood sell for NIS 2.3 million, and single-family homes sell
      for NIS 4.5 million. This has significant meaning, and it could harm
      people who have been living in the neighborhood for decades. All this
      creates complete uncertainty for local real estate, and is leaving
      homeowners panicked.”
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