Gary Barnett gives Jerusalem a chance with land purchase

Extell developer buys Israeli land for 750 million shekels

Extell Development’s Gary Barnett and Ze'ev Jabotinsky St 3 in Jerusalem, Israel (Alistair Gardiner, Google Maps)
Extell Development’s Gary Barnett and Ze'ev Jabotinsky St 3 in Jerusalem, Israel (Alistair Gardiner, Google Maps)

Gary Barnett is a titan of development in New York City. His next challenge is a world away in one of the holiest cities known to man.

The Extell Development honcho purchased the Greek Orthodox Patriarchate Land in central Jerusalem from Nayot Komemiyut Investments, the developer announced. Barnett paid 750 million shekels for the land, equivalent to roughly $219 million in U.S. dollars.

The purchase price was Nayot’s minimum acceptable for the land, according to Globes.

There are thousands of housing units on the land, as well as several hotels, including the five-star Inbal Hotel. There are also public buildings, institutes and more than a dozen undeveloped plots for Barnett to transform.

“This is a win-win-win-win situation for the state Of Israel, for the city of Jerusalem, for Extell and for the residents,” Barnett said in a statement. “We are going to treat the
tenants in Jerusalem with the same respect and fairness as we are doing in all of our

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It’s not clear what Barnett has planned for his land. It is leased to Keren Kayemeth Leisrael, otherwise known as the Jewish National Fund, until 2051. The JNF then has an option to renew its lease of the land based on the market value.

According to Globes, however, rumors have run rampant as to what will happen to the land once the lease expires, which led the property price to plunge. That being said, previous reports have suggested the land was purchased for around 115 million shekels, less than one-sixth of what it was sold for to Barnett.

Barnett, who is Jewish, is not a stranger to Israel. Extell has been issuing bonds on the Tel Aviv Stock Exchange for eight years.

In fact, Barnett faced major backlash several years ago in Tel Aviv regarding a $75 million shareholder dividend. Paid to the company’s sole shareholder — himself — the company’s decision led two board members to protest, lawsuits from bondholders and an investigation from the Israel Securities Authority itself.

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