Carmit, a New 2,600-Home Development in the Negev, Aims to Leverage IDF Base Moves, Aliyah Growth (INTERVIEW)

August 8, 2013 7:52 pm 0 comments
Ofir Fisher, OR Movement Co-Founder, Chief Development Officer, in front of Carmit. Photo: Screenshot.

Ofir Fisher, OR Movement Co-Founder, Chief Development Officer, in front of Carmit. Photo: Screenshot.

Carmit, a 2,600-home planned community in the Negev, will leverage the relocation of three Israel Defense Force bases and aliyah growth to develop a barren swath of the desert, a co-founder of OR Movement, an organization spearheading the development, told The Algemeiner in an interview.

Ofir Fisher is the “O” of OR Movement along with co-founder Ronnie Flammer, two young Israelis who, in 1999, when the government created a Ministry for the the Negev and Galilee, decided to “dedicate their lives to building the future of Israel,” Fisher said this week, while in the US for fundraising events in New York City and Los Angeles.

Created in 2002, the OR Movement is now raising funds for shared services at Carmit, its seventh community, but its first to be fully planned. It has facilitated six other towns, including Sansana, Givot Bar, and Kibbutz Kramim, near Beer Sheva, with over 50 community and public building projects, through partnerships with the government and leading Israeli and diaspora charities. More than 25,000 families have moved to OR Movement towns, and their success has brought the group tremendous notoriety in Israel.

In 2010, OR Movement won the first ever Prime Minister’s Award for Innovation and Initiatives, followed by the Yigal Alon Award for Exemplary Pioneering Activities and was then named to The Algemeiner’s Jewish 100, a list of the top 100 individuals who positively influenced Jewish life in 2012.

Carmit, the new planned community development in the Negev. Photo: Screenshot.

Carmit, the new planned community development in the Negev. Photo: Screenshot.

Fisher said the seed idea of OR Movement was to provide young people in Israel an alternative to moving to Tel Aviv, while focusing development and economic growth on locations that were “not in dispute.”

“We wanted to channel the energy of young people to the 70% of today’s Israel made up of the Negev and the Galilee; right now, the Negev makes up 60% of Israel, but with only 8% of our population,” Fisher said. “This land is the future of Israel.”

The communities are not being built in a vacuum, but as part of a broader national plan accelerated by a government decision to relocate three major IDF operations to the area, bringing military investment in the bases, as well as thousands of career soldiers needing residential housing.

On WednesdayPrime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and Defense Minister Moshe Ya’alon visited the Negev to tour what will become a new IDF training complex, which will cost 21 billion shekels ($5.92 billion) to complete.

The IDF’s Communication Corps compound will be transferred from Herziliyah to the new Negev complex next year. The IDF’s Intelligence compound is set to move to the Negev in 2018, and with it, 30,000 personnel, of which 6,000 are career servicemen. The Computer Science division will also makes its way to the Negev.

OR Movement, the group behind the Carmit development, with its supporting institutions. Photo: Screenshot.

OR Movement, the group behind the Carmit development, with its supporting institutions. Photo: Screenshot.

On Wednesday, Netanyahu, looking towards the future, said: “The IDF’s move to the Negev represents an unprecedented maneuver in its scope and economic, social and cultural impact. The completion of the maneuver will see the Negev turn into the ‘Israeli Silicon Valley.”

Last month, the government approved an investment of 500 million shekels ($137 million) to allocate over the next five years to Negev communities to develop educational institutions, as well as industrial and high-tech parks that will facilitate job opportunities for spouses of career IDF servicemen and women. Local residents will benefit from a development and construction boom unheard of in Israel’s southern desert.

Fisher said the government investment in Carmit will total about $30 million, through a grant to build all of the basic infrastructure, including roads, sewage and utilities, which will take about 14 months to complete. Before that, development partners Keren Kayemet LeIsrael – JNF contributed $4 million to cover the costs of all the earth moving to level the ground for the development. Seventy years ago, in 1943, KKL-JNF began developing the Negev to keep the arid land connected to the easier to settle land on the coast.

OR Movement is raising money from donations to cover the shared communal services that provide the seeds to grow the town —  a $2.5 million synagogue, a $1.2 million day care center, and a $1 million entrance way into the community. The first residents are expected to move in within 24 to 30 months, and the new synagogue, in the center of the town, is already up.

So far, Fisher said, 180 families have paid for their lots and their number is expected to grow to 470 families by the end of next year. After the completion of the first phase of about 500 homes, the community will be expanded to encompass up to 2,600 families.

Each plot of land is between 500 and 700 square meters, about an eighth of an acre, and is sold for between $100,000 and $120,000. On top of that, OR Movement recommends architects and builders to actually construct the homes, most of which will cost another $100,000 to $300,000 to build.

“Rather than build these ourselves, the philosophy of OR Movement is to help facilitate all of the paperwork, all of the planning, all of the permits, all of the infrastructure, to then allow families to come in with their own architects and builders to create their dream homes,” Fisher said.

The location of Carmit is attractive because of its proximity to Israel’s Highway 6, which will have its own exit to the town, about 15 miles north of Beer Sheva and an hour south of Tel Aviv. The development will also have its own train station, which will connect Carmit to Tel Aviv with a 42 minute trip, making commuting very feasible.

The prospect of  new residents is boosted by the Army personnel in need of housing. Ben Gurion University of the Negev, whose president is on the OR Movement board, also has about 900 employees who commute to the school each day, and many are expected to move to Carmit to be closer to the University’s Beer Sheva campus.

In addition, spots are being reserved for families making or having made Aliyah, including a large English-speaking contingent.

“This is an opportunity, far away from the peace process and the conflict, where Jews can build on the land, in undisputed territory, reclaim the desert, raise their families and become part of a community created to embrace all who want to take part in what we are building together in the Negev,” Fisher said.

A video about the new Carmit development can be viewed below:

Leave a Reply

Please note: comments may be published in the Algemeiner print edition.


Current day month ye@r *

More...

  • Arts and Culture Jewish Identity ‘Tears of Color’ Art Exhibit Shows Struggles of Israelis With Eating Disorders

    ‘Tears of Color’ Art Exhibit Shows Struggles of Israelis With Eating Disorders

    JNS.org – “This is how I want to be—without fear. Independent. I want to be like a bird. I want to spread my wings.” So reads part of the description beneath one of the 30 paintings on display until the end of May at the ZOA House in Tel Aviv. The collection represents the first-ever art exhibit of its kind: an exhibit created entirely by Israelis in treatment for eating disorders. Dubbed “Tears of Color,” based on one of the [...]

    Read more →
  • Beliefs and concepts Book Reviews Overprotective or Loving? Daughters Reflect on Jewish Mothers in New Anthology

    Overprotective or Loving? Daughters Reflect on Jewish Mothers in New Anthology

    JNS.org – Rachel Ament noticed that she and her friends often shared humorous anecdotes that were typically variations on a theme: overprotective, worrying Jewish moms who smothered them with love. That included Ament’s own mother. “My mom is probably every Jewish stereotype scrunched into one,” the Washington, DC, resident tells JNS.org. “At the root of all these stereotypical, worrying, overprotective moms, is love.” A social media writer for Capital One, as well as a freelance writer, Ament decided about three years [...]

    Read more →
  • Book Reviews Commentary ‎Kosher Lust: Love is Not the Answer (REVIEW)

    ‎Kosher Lust: Love is Not the Answer (REVIEW)

    Kosher Lust, by Shmuley Boteach (Gefen Publishing House, 2014). You really do want to find something positive to say about Shmuley Boteach. He is a phenomenon; very bright, an articulate bundle of energy and self-promotion. Anyone who has the chutzpah to describe himself as “America’s Rabbi” deserves ten out of ten for effort. I believe that along with most Chabad alumni, official and unofficial, he does a lot of good and is a sort of national treasure. In this world [...]

    Read more →
  • Jewish Identity Theater Hollywood’s Revisiting of Passover’s Exodus Story a Part of Throwback ‘Year of the Bible’

    Hollywood’s Revisiting of Passover’s Exodus Story a Part of Throwback ‘Year of the Bible’

    JNS.org – In a throwback to the golden age of cinema, Hollywood has declared 2014 the “Year of the Bible.” From Ridley Scott’s Exodus starring Christian Bale as Moses, to Russell Crowe playing Noah, Hollywood is gambling on new innovations in technology and star power to revisit some of the most popular stories ever told. “It’s definitely a throwback to the 1950s and early ’60s,” Dr. Stephen J. Whitfield, an American Studies professor at Brandeis University, told JNS.org. Starting with The [...]

    Read more →
  • Arts and Culture US & Canada ‘Jewish Giant’ Headlines New York Jewish Museum Exhibit

    ‘Jewish Giant’ Headlines New York Jewish Museum Exhibit

    Eddie Carmel, dubbed “The Jewish Giant” by American photographer Diane Arbus, is the centerpiece of a new exhibit opening April 11 at The Jewish Museum in New York. Arbus met Carmel, who was billed “The World’s Tallest Man,” at Hubert’s Dime Museum and Flea Circus in 1959 but waited until 1970 to photograph him at his parents’ home in the Bronx, according to the museum. The son of immigrants from Tel Aviv, Carmel posed for Arbus with his head bowed to [...]

    Read more →
  • Music US & Canada Disney Hit ‘Frozen’ Gets Passover Themed Makeover With ‘Chozen’ (VIDEO)

    Disney Hit ‘Frozen’ Gets Passover Themed Makeover With ‘Chozen’ (VIDEO)

    A Passover themed cover of hit songs Let It Go and Do You Want to Build a Snowman? from Disney’s Frozen has attracted tons of media buzz and a cool 65,ooo views on YouTube within days of going online. The work of Jewish a capella group Six13, the track is aptly named Chozen. We are celebrating “our freedom, our favorite festival, our fabulous fans, and aspiring Disney princesses everywhere” the group said. The Chozen music video tells the story of [...]

    Read more →
  • Arts and Culture Jewish Identity Retreat Gives Young Artists New Platform to Engage With Jewish Ideas

    Retreat Gives Young Artists New Platform to Engage With Jewish Ideas

    JNS.org – Many young Jewish artists struggle to define who they are personally, artistically, and religiously. Against the backdrop of that struggle, the recent Asylum Arts International Jewish Artists Retreat provided a space for some 70 young Jewish artists to explore Jewish ideas, to build community and a culture of reciprocity, and to learn skills to assist their career development. “We are trying to encourage and excite people to engage in Jewish themes,” says Rebecca Guber, director of Asylum Arts. [...]

    Read more →
  • Arts and Culture Jewish Literature Darren Aronofsky Adds Psychological Depth, Little Else to ‘Noah’

    Darren Aronofsky Adds Psychological Depth, Little Else to ‘Noah’

    JNS.org – Has the era of large-scale biblical epics returned? Not since “The Ten Commandments” has there been so much torrential water on the big screen (not counting weather-related disaster films such as “The Impossible”) than in “Noah,” the latest blockbuster from writer and director Darren Aronofsky. “Noah” takes the traditional tale and splices it in an eco-friendly and psychologically driven plot. After Adam and Eve got booted out of the Garden of Eden and after Cain killed Abel, mankind [...]

    Read more →



Sign up now to receive our regular news briefs.