On resuming the Jordan Gate Towers: Jordanians finish what they start

On resuming the Jordan Gate Towers Jordanians finish what they start 01
(Photos: Hana Afram, Jordan News)
For nearly two decades, the skeletal frames of the Jordan Gate Towers dominated the urban landscape. However, now, Amman's skyline is set to transform with the long-awaited revival of the Jordan Gate Towers, once an ambitious dream turned stagnant symbol. These twin giants, located near the Sixth Circle, hold more than bricks and mortar. They represent a cultural rebirth, a phoenix rising from the ashes of financial hurdles and unfulfilled promises.اضافة اعلان

And although the journey has not been easy, the narrative is finally shifting. In 2022, the Greater Amman Municipality (GAM), recognizing the towers' symbolic weight, invested in the project, breathing new life into its development.

History behind the towers
2005: Construction begins on the Jordan Gate Towers, envisioned as a high-rise complex of luxury apartments, offices, and a hotel. The project, designed by renowned architect Ja'afar Tuqan, promises to transform the Sixth Circle area and become a symbol of Amman's modernity.

2008: Progress reaches 80 percent. However, early delays set in, fueled by financial difficulties and changing ownership. Momentum begins to falter, casting a shadow over the initial enthusiasm.

2010-2011: Construction progress was sluggish, eventually pausing due to financial difficulties arising from the aftermath of the 2007-2008 financial crisis and disagreements between the contractor, Al-Hamad, and the owner, Al-Bayan Holding. The North Tower crane collapse, which prevented work for several weeks, added to the construction's delay.

2011-2021: The project remains dormant, with legal disputes and ownership changes further complicating the situation.

2022: GAM steps in, declaring its renewed partnership in the project and acquiring a 31 percent stake, worth JD50 million, in the capital of the Jordan Gate Company. This move aimed to address the ‘investment failure’ located at the city's core. Construction resumes with a revised vision. The northern tower will be transformed into luxury residences. The southern tower, meanwhile, aims to host a hotel.

The towers in pop culture
Rumored to be visible from the West Bank, the Jordan Gate Towers have gained relevance worldwide and in pop culture primarily due to their distinctive architectural design and iconic status in Amman’s skyline.

The towers' have also decorated photographs, videos, promotional materials, media coverage, and travel documentaries when showcasing Amman.

In 2016, the towers went viral worldwide after architect Hanna Salameh posted a video on YouTube thoroughly explaining his proposal for revitalizing the Jordan Gate Towers.

In his video, Salameh proposed to rename the Jordan Gate Towers to Jordan Gate Park. Salameh's ambitious plan aimed to transform the towers into vertical farms, complete with hydroponic agriculture, wind turbines, and solar panels.

The video resonated with Jordanians concerned about environmental sustainability and urban development. It sparked discussions about green solutions for existing infrastructure and highlighted the potential for innovative thinking in tackling urban challenges.

While officials expressed support for the project, skepticism remained about its feasibility.

Public opinion on the towers
As a Junior Advisor for Progress Monitoring at GIZ, a sustainable development agency, 24-year-old Sadeen, a long-time resident of Amman, gave insight on the vast potential of the Jordan Gate Towers.

"They have been up for as long as I can remember," she said. "And the towers have not been put to good use yet, which means any amount of money spent so far has not given a return on investment.” Sadeen echoed a common sentiment; many are eager to see the towers finally serve a purpose after years of wasted potential.

However, discussions of ethical considerations surfaced when garnering public opinion on the towers. Jordanians emphasized the need for thorough infrastructure checks, the possibility of incorporating sustainable energy sources, ensuring fair labor practices during construction, and maintaining budget transparency.

When discussing the potential impact on job opportunities, Sadeen expressed hope, suggesting, "Maybe some spaces could serve as government offices, since the wait for a job at the Civil Service Bureau (CSB) is very long and it could open job opportunities if done right."

And as the project progresses, expectations remain high for its positive impact on the city's landscape, economy, and community life.

The government’s side on things
In a recent interview with Jordan News, former Minister of Investment Muhannad Shehadeh provided insights into the economic significance of completing the Jordan Gate Towers project, its potential impact on Jordan's investment landscape, and the complexities surrounding the unfinished skyscrapers.

The interview delved into how completing the Jordan Gate Towers project aligns with Jordan’s Economic Modernization Vision (EMV) 2023–2025. Shehadeh emphasized that there are two key principles for the EMV: consistency in planning for long-term growth and sending a message of openness to investors, and the Jordan Gate Towers project has not achieved that for nearly two decades.

“One of the objectives of the EMV is to tell the world that Jordan is open for business, we want to attract investment and send a message that ‘Jordan finishes what it starts’. You cannot do that when you have unfinished projects like the Jordan Gate Towers,” stated Shehadeh. “And today we have a clear vision, and we need to have a plan to implement it and finish the towers.”

While acknowledging challenges, Shehadeh challenged the notion that the Jordan Gate Towers represent failure, stating, “One bad tree does not make a bad farm. Jordan has had so many real estate success stories. The King Hussein Business Park (KHBP) is one example. The business park is a huge infrastructure; the occupancy is 110 percent. And why is that? Because of proper management. Abdali is also at 100 percent occupancy for the same reasons.”

“I guess in the case of the Jordan Gate Towers, they are so prominent because they are in the middle of Amman and in everyone’s view, therefore people tend to look at them with criticism,” he continued.

Shehadeh concluded by saying, “I would really love to see the project finalized. I believe that the towers would provide a new ecosystem of merchants, services, and traction near the Sixth Circle and for Jordan as a whole, which is very unique.”

The revitalization of the Jordan Gate Towers not only holds the promise of economic growth and urban development but also embodies the spirit of progress and adaptation. Now, with the renewed partnership of GAM and the determination of stakeholders to see the project through, the towers stand on the brink of transformation.

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