Givatayim is technically a town, but by all accounts it is a middle-class neighborhood east of Tel Aviv. Givatayim is one street away from the Azrieli Center and Hashalom railway station.

As it is a purely middle-class area, the real-estate prices are high.

This is ironic, because Givatayim was founded in the mid-1920s as a working-class suburb of Tel Aviv. The workers’ union purchased plots of land there, which were resold to workers of Palestine Railways, who built small houses for themselves. It was there that modern apartment houses were built for workers.

Givatayim was an island surrounded by Tel Aviv and Ramat Gan, which were dominated politically by the General Zionists, a bourgeois political party and the forerunner of the Liberal Party, which later became part of the Likud.

Givatayim remained for many years the stronghold of the Mapai/Labor Party.

The real estate scene has several defining features.

• Nearly all the city is covered by dwellings, public parks and public buildings, such as schools.

Consequently land for building purposes is practically nonexistent.

• The majority of buildings are residential. There is no industry and very few office buildings. The few that do exist are located at the edges of the city.

• There is a significant amount of pinui binui (evacuate and build) and a substantial degree of adding extra floors to old residential buildings. It is the only way that new apartment buildings can be built. Most of the one-family homes built in the 1920s and 1930s on such streets as Sheinkin, Gilboa, Poalei Harakevet and Borochov have been torn down to make room for new developments.

And now it is the turn of apartment buildings built in the 1950s and 1960s on such streets as Hameri and Halamed-Heh.

Rotem Shani Development and Investments is one of the companies deeply involved in such projects. It has already completed three projects in the town, is completing another one and is in the process of two others.

To give an idea of the importance of pinui binui in increasing the housing stock in Givatayim, the current eight-floor project of Rotem Shani on Sheinkin Street has nearly 30 apartments. It is replacing an old building with a ground floor and an upper floor that housed just three apartments and two stores.

Yoram Pomerantz, chairman of the Green Givatayim local political movement, tells Metro, “Givatayim is a very pleasant town to live in, but it is old and crowded. The only way to rejuvenate the town and convert it into a green city is by tearing down old buildings and constructing larger modern buildings in their place. It is the only way to solve the city’s chronic parking problem, and I would expect the municipal authorities to be more flexible in their regulations in this matter.”

Pomerantz adds that Givatayim is an aging city, with some 25 percent of the residents over 65. He believes that the local authority should encourage building small relatively inexpensive dwellings to attract young people.

Givatayim Mayor Reuven Ben-Shahar is keen on pinui binui and Tama 38, but up to a point.

In a talk with Metro, he explains the aim of his administration.

“It is true that because of the critical lack of land for building purposes, pinui binui and Tama 38 are practically the only way to increase housing stock in the city. They are also the best means to improve the look of the city. Tama 38 not only adds additional residential floors, but it also restores the facades of old and dilapidated buildings. Nevertheless, we have strict regulations on the matter, whose main purpose is to protect the interests of the residents of Givatayim. We do not allow high-rise buildings except in exceptional circumstances. We do not want a crowded city of high-rise apartment complexes that will strain the infrastructure. High-rises would impair the quality of life in Givatayim.

“Furthermore, we do not allow the construction of apartments that are smaller than 70 square meters, except in exceptional cases and for the same reasons.

It is the policy of this administration to constantly upgrade both the physical and cultural infrastructure of the city – streets and roads, sewage systems, etc.

The municipality also encourages cultural activities.”

Givatayim is very close to Tel Aviv in both in the makeup of its population and its geography. But it is making efforts to distance itself from the metropolitan center.

In the not-so-distant past, the only things one could find in Givatayim were residential buildings, small shops that catered to the basic needs of households, and movie theaters. All other forms of entertainment were in Tel Aviv.

Now things are different. Tel Aviv is still the employment center, but Givatayim has specialty stores, restaurants, coffee shops and a theater. With the exception of finding a job, most Givatayim residents can satisfy most of their life necessities within the municipal boundaries of the city.

The middle-class background of the city, as well as the fact that it is a pleasant place to live, has converted Givatayim real estate into one of the most expensive in the country. Prices in parts of Jerusalem and Tel Aviv are higher, as are those in certain urban entities such as Savyon, Kfar Shmaryahu and Omer, but as a city, the average cost of real estate is highest in Givatayim. The high prices are also due to the fact that demand usually outstrips supply.

Ronen Cohen, the manager/proprietor of the Shavit Properties real estate agency, says, “Demand for real estate in Givatayim is substantial. Givatayim is popular with potential buyers, and this is reflected in the level of demand. Nevertheless, I don’t expect to see substantial price increases because it will be difficult for potential buyers to afford increased prices. This is reflected in the difficulty in selling expensive real estate. In the past, penthouses and rooftop apartments were much in demand, but now they are much less so.”

Second-hand two-room apartments can cost from NIS 1.05 million to NIS 1.2m. Three-room apartments cost from NIS 1.6m. to NIS 1.7m., while four-room apartments cost from NIS 2m. to NIS 2.5m. Rooftop apartments can cost around NIS 3m., while penthouses can cost NIS 3.5m. and up, depending on the size and location.

Recent real-estate transactions

• An 84-square-meter, two-room apartment in a quiet but central area of town sold for NIS 1.35 million. The apartment – which is in an old but well-maintained building of two stories built 60 years ago – has no parking, but it has a 16-sq.m. open terrace.

• A 2.5-room apartment measuring 78 sq.m. on a centrally located street sold for NIS 1.2m. The apartment is on the second floor. There is no private parking.

• A three-room, 84-sq.m. apartment in dire need of redecoration on a central and noisy street sold for NIS 1.3m. The apartment has no private parking attached.

• A four-room apartment on the 11th floor in one of the relatively new neighborhoods of Givatayim, measuring 105 sq.m. and with two parking lots and an elevator, sold for NIS 2.6m.

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