Tel Aviv — Tel Aviv and Jerusalem are experiencing an unprecedented boom in luxury housing that is transforming the cities’ skylines.
Analysts trace this upswing to a number of factors, including Israel’s much improved security situation following the end of the second intifada, and the fact that the value of Israeli real estate has continued to skyrocket at a time when the value of property in the U.S. and elsewhere has declined.
Tel Aviv has a number of impressive luxury high-rise projects, including the prestigious Meier-on-Rothschild building, an eye-popping residential tower designed by architect Richard Meier, winner of the Pritzker Architecture Prize, and developed by Berggruen Residential Ltd.
The move-in date is March 2015.
Located in the heart of Rothschild Boulevard, Tel Aviv’s equivalent of Park or Fifth Avenue, the 42-story tower is a 10-minute stroll to the beach and in the heart of the city’s cultural, financial and commercial hubs.
Despite its urban location, the boulevard’s tree-lined walking and bicycle paths add to residents’ quality of life and sense of community.
Its units boast floor-to-ceiling windows, top-of-the-line fittings, personal storage rooms and wine cellars, a semi-Olympic-size swimming pool and all the other amenities one would expect in a super-luxurious residence. Eighty percent of the apartments have already been sold, according to sales manager Lee Ziv, while the remaining 20 percent include stunning penthouses, each with its own private pool. The priciest penthouse is going for $51.5 million.
The Meier-on-Rothschild tower is one of a growing number of luxury and ultra-luxury buildings built in Tel Aviv and Jerusalem in the past decade.
Shay Lipman, a real estate analyst at Excellence Brokerage Services in Petach Tikvah, says the demand for prime Israeli real estate is greater than ever, especially in the center of Tel Aviv and within walking distance of the Western Wall and downtown Jerusalem.
“Today we’re seeing demand from many foreigners, including Russians, Americans and Europeans, especially from France and Belgium, partly due to rising anti-Semitism” in Europe.
Lipman said buyers are often foreign business people, including Israeli expats, who spend several weeks or months in Israel for work “and want a home base and the high standard they’re used to.”
High-earning Israelis are also investing, as are Israelis in their 50s and 60s whose children are grown and who now want to live in the city.
While most purchase apartments as their second — or third or fourth — homes, many eventually use them as their primary residence, Lipman noted.
That’s the case at the Africa-Israel Residences at 7 Rav Kook St. in the heart of downtown Jerusalem. All of its smaller apartments have been sold and marketing has begun for the “grand apartments ($1.28 million to $2 million) and penthouse homes ($3.4 million to $5.7 million), the latter boasting large terraces with superb views, some of the Old City.
The project was jointly initiated by Africa-Israel and Shainfeld Investments.
The model penthouse apartment is full of old-world elegance, with an American-sized kitchen and custom woodwork throughout. Others are bare bones, awaiting the architectural plans of prospective buyers.
Dalia Azar Malimouka, a spokeswoman for the residences, said many of the residents, including families with young children, live there year-round while others come for the summer or weeks at a time for business.
Ziv of Meier-on-Rothschild said her property is a “unique” contribution to Tel Aviv architecture, which already boasts many fine buildings, most notably the iconic Bauhaus buildings that grace the city center.
“It’s the first building designed in Israel by Richard Meier. It breaks all the records for high standards,” she asserted.
Jacky Teplitzky, who is an associate broker with Douglas Elliman and represents Meier-on-Rothschild in New York, concurs.
“The level of quality and sophistication is unparalleled to anything previously built in Israel,” she said, adding: Meier “likes to build with a lot of natural light, so he designs floor-to-ceiling windows. You will always have a stunning view either of the Mediterranean Sea or the mountains or the White City of Tel Aviv.”
Ziv said the project’s standards, coupled with its location, are hard to beat.
“Rothschild is where people in Tel Aviv go when they have a day off. Everyone wants to live there, but not everyone can afford to.”